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Help! My special needs child isn't adjusting to the divorce

Many children struggle mightily to adjust to their parents getting divorced. If your child is on the autism spectrum or has other developmental delays, it can even be more challenging to sort out custody matters.

Some parents decide to think outside of the box in these instances. One potential option is something referred to as "bird's nest parenting."

A unique approach

With bird's nest parenting, the children remain living full-time in the former family home and the parents transition in and out under the terms of a co-parenting agreement. This reduces the anxiety and trauma of the children adjusting to changes in their environment every few days or weeks.

While this type of custody arrangement can be very beneficial to kids with special needs, they are not the only ones who might find it preferable. Toddlers and pre-schoolers thrive on stability and order and may exhibit regressive behaviors if they have to spend time at mom's house and then move over to dad's for the rest of the week.

By parents choosing to be the ones who move in and out, the kids' routines aren't disrupted. Their clothing and possessions don't wind up lost or at the wrong house because everything stays in the same place.

When your child is disabled

Because it is quite expensive to make homes handicap accessible, parents of physically challenged children may find this custody option to be ideal. Saving the costs of adapting two homes for wheelchair access may allow the parents to actually save some money.

This is important, because bird's nest parenting often involves supporting three residences — the "nest" where the children remain and an apartments or house for each parent when they don't have the kids. That can get pricey, but there still may be a way around this obstacle if the parents agree to share living space in one dwelling.

Not an option for everyone

For bird's nest parenting to work, the ex-spouses must be able to remain civil and cooperative with one another. Obviously, if there is a history of domestic violence or other abuse, this option should remain off the table.

But for parents who are able to rise above their marital strife and put their children's interests first, this custody choice could wind up being the best decision for all concerned.

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