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Who Pays for Home Renovations in ‘Bird’s Nest’ Custody?

by | Apr 24, 2024 | Child Custody and Support NY

Bird nest custody” is a unique type of Child Custody arrangement the children remain in the marital home while the parents come and go on approved schedules. This method of child custody has gained popularity in divorces on Long Island, New York, where people want to refrain from making drastic changes to the lives of their children.

There are many different ways this can play out. In some cases, one parent may live in the home with the children from Monday to Friday, while the other lives in the home on weekends. In others, one parent may live in the home for a week or a month and then at the end of that time, the other parent comes in and lives in the home for a similar period of time.

Bird Nesting Custody Agreements Must Outline Expectations

In this type of arrangement, both parents typically remain responsible for the marital home where the children live. If the responsibilities and costs are not fully discussed and documented beforehand, this type of custody can lead to disagreements and confusion.

All homes need to be cleaned, maintained, updated, and renovated over time. The way in which this is accomplished depends on the agreement made during negotiations of the divorce and child custody agreement. This may mean contributing equally to projects that need to be undertaken, or it may mean one parent is responsible for some items and the other is responsible for others. For example, one parent may be responsible for cleaning the home, while the other may be responsible for maintaining the lawn and landscaping. If this is not all discussed and spelled out in the agreement beforehand, it can lead to confusion and disagreements.

You may have divorced and left your marriage because you could not agree on various matters. That is what makes it far more challenging for bird nesting custody agreements to work without a carefully and comprehensively outlined plan in advance.

Creating a List of Rules Helps Bird’s Nest Custody Arrangements

One of the steps that can be taken when entering into this type of custody agreement is creating a list of house rules and governing decisions. This would allow for clarity in these goals.

  • Who will maintain the home while living in it? This typically means cleaning and day-to-day maintenance and is often done by the party living in the home at the time. As in the example above, this needs to address both interior and exterior maintenance.
  • How will style-based and aesthetic updates to the home be made? If painting the walls, adding a flower garden, or other non-necessary updates need to be done, how will those be decided upon and paid for? This could be split between the two when agreed, or one party may be responsible outright. What if one party thinks the walls need to be painted and the other thinks things are fine the way they are? How will these be decided?
  • How will conversations happen related to bigger renovation needs like the roof or replacement of windows? These structural, necessary updates are likely to need to be done at some point, but who decides when they need to be done? Will these costs be divided equally or will one parent take on more of the responsibility?

Because of the complexity and numerous responsibilities that come with owning a home, working with an experienced Long Island, NY divorce attorney that can objectively consider these issues ahead of time is critical. You’ll want to engage an attorney like this early on to create a strong, comprehensive agreement that outlines all of these rules and obligations in advance. For bird nesting custody to work, decisions on all of these areas must be made in advance so there is no question about them later when the issues arise.

How to Make Bird Nesting Custody Work on Long Island, NY

In shared custody through bird nesting, parents must be able to effectively communicate. If you’re considering this type of custody, you will likely need to be on amicable speaking terms with your ex.  

  • Create a clear list of objectives that both parties agree to before heading into the legal process.
  • Outline all requirements related to caring for the children, including who can make decisions and when both parties must be a part of the decision-making process.
  • Carefully outline the responsibilities and expectations of maintaining the home. This should include day-to-day cleaning and maintenance and savings for large renovations and updates.
  • Outline a specific strategy for handling disagreements in these home renovations and maintenance concerns. If you cannot agree, how will decisions be made? This could include a neutral third party, for example.
  • Outline an exit strategy. If, over time, it becomes apparent that this type of custody agreement cannot work, what will happen? This may include the sale of the home or one party taking over full responsibility and an alternate child custody agreement is put in place.

Creating an agreement like this will help facilitate decisions and help preserve the integrity of the bird nesting process. These types of decisions are challenging for many families and must be considered when entering into this type of living situation, especially if it turns out that the property does not get the attention it needs over time, reducing its value or even becoming unsafe for the children.

Bird nesting custody agreements like this also take financial consideration. Often, both parents have their own home away from the family home and then must maintain some part of the costs associated with the family home while maintaining their own properties. This can becomes expensive over time and must be considered before entering into this type of custody arrangement.

Work with an Experienced Divorce Attorney Who Can Help You with Bird’s Nest Custody Matters

Our experienced team of Long Island, NY, divorce attorneys can help you create a custody agreement that outlines all of the requirements necessary. At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we are also ready to help you determine the best type of child custody your family and what options offer the best solution for you.

To learn more, set up a free consultation with one of our divorce attorneys by calling 631-923-1910. Or filling in the short form on this page.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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Melissa Rappa
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