Birds In A Nest!
A State is who ends a marriage, and so it's fair to say they too have a role in the problem of divorce.
We could learn a lot from how birds raise and care for their young. In the wild, the animal parents care for the young, and do not move their offspring until they have reached an age of maturity. As crazy as it sounds, we think that humans could learn quite a bit from our feathered friends in this area. We want to petition for a "bird's-nest custody arrangment" as the de facto standard for all divorcing couples with minor children in order to eliminate custody disputes.
Simply put, in a "bird's-nest custody arrangment", one home is established as the children’s home. The two parents rotate in and out so the children can have the one home they deserve with all of their belongings and friends in one place. The parents are the ones inconvenienced. Neither parent has custody any different than if they were married and neither parent visits the children. Each parent is in residence and not in residence at the family home 50% of the time. The family home is also free of new spouses or relationships, for the protection of the children.
In this situation, if either parent feels the other needs monitoring during their time in the family home, that can be litigated. As for the ongoing decisions parents need to make raising their children, divorced couples can choose to negotiate and compromise as married parents do or each spend all of their out of residence time in counseling to learn their part of the problem. However, the parents should not be allowed to use the court and custody as a manipulative tool, harming the children to get what the adult wants.
A"bird's-nest custody arrangment" has been ordered in a few landmark cases. Judges do not routinely order this because the expenses of maintaining essentially three homes can be costly and because it makes having new relationships impractical for parents. However, these reasons are about the best interests of the parent; not the best interests of the child!
All that matters to the children is a secure home and equal time spent with each parent. Studies show that divorce, new step-parents and siblings, and the upheaval surrounding those issues are extremely difficult for minor children to endure, and the "bird's-nest custody arrangment" protects those children as much as possible.
If necessary, money issues could still be handled by a court; however, all family resources should go first to the family home and any other expenses necessary for equal time for each parent to occur. And if there isn’t enough money for homes for the parents, then they’ll have to sleep at a friend's or share one home they each use separately when they are not in residence at the family home. Money available beyond what is necessary for the family home could also be litigated.
Second and third marriages fail at much higher rates than first marriages, so it is in the best interest of the child for it to be tougher to have a new relationship while minor children are present. That’s not to say that new relationships would be impossible, just not as easy and not as potentially damaging to the children who are already going through so much. Also, a parent can choose not to spend as much time in the family home.
Obviously, this scenario requires two mature parents but so does any divorce or marriage scenario. And obviously this scenario is not fair to either parent for a variety of reasons. The “bird’s-nest custody arrangement” does not limit personal freedoms of adults; it just puts them secondary to a child having one home and two equal parents. It also lends itself more to reconciliation and to choosing more wisely and dealing with problems more effectively.
Like birds of a feather, a family must, even in divorce, flock together.