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An alternative approach to joint custody

In the past, when Minnesota parents got a divorce, a judge might have awarded custody to the mother while the father might have had the children on certain weekends. This was often the pattern in child custody cases, but in more recent years, there has been a shift toward joint custody. Studies show that children usually thrive when having access to both parents. However, moving back and forth between households can be stressful for children. One possible solution is an arrangement called nesting.

This allows the children to remain in the family home while the parents are the ones who move back and forth. This can save money if the parents are able to rent a small apartment nearby as one couple did. They spent 18 months nesting with their children, taking turns living in the apartment, and only stopped when one of them found a new partner. The parents said the arrangement had helped provide the children with stability in the immediate aftermath of the divorce. Usually, the best approach is to plan for nesting to transition to a more traditional joint custody arrangement after a certain amount of time.

Nesting can present some challenges. Parents must get along well. Issues such as the responsibility for chores could become problems.

However, even if nesting is not possible for parents, either because there is too much conflict between them or for some other reason, joint custody can still work. With the help of their attorneys, parents may be able to negotiate an arrangement in which the child spends a significant amount of time with each one even if the time is not split 50/50. Parents may also want to consider how they will handle vacations and holidays and include these plans in the agreement.

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