Monthly Archives: July 2022

How “Birdnesting” Can Help Families Through Divorce and Real Estate Crises

One of the most significant questions in a divorce proceeding has always been the disposition of the family home. Particularly, when the family residence is the couple’s largest asset, and they need to sell the home to help manage the financial impacts of divorce.

However, the combination of divorce and moving homes can create a lot of stress on the family. This was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and all the changes it has brought to both the real estate market and our daily lives.

Now more than ever, it is important to consider creative solutions to handle real estate crises during divorce, like the new and popular concept of “birdnesting”.


The Benefits of Birdnesting

Birdnesting is when spouses alternate sharing the family home. The children remain in the same home with the same routines, while parents swap between the family home and a smaller space, like a small and affordable apartment.

For many families, birdnesting is beneficial from financial, emotional, and psychological perspectives. The concept has become widely popular amongst families who want to mitigate the sudden impact of divorce on their children. No more leaving homework assignments or schoolbooks at one parent’s home, disrupting sleep schedules, or creating distance between children and their regular routines like school, friends, and sports.


The Downfalls and Variations of Birdnesting

While birdnesting can be deeply beneficial for the children of the marriage, and by extension for the whole family, it is not always affordable and has become even less so in a time of soaring home prices, higher interest rates, and record housing insecurity. And while the pandemic has created an extreme housing shortage and increased prices, this is not the first and will not be the last housing crisis. Multiple real estate acquisitions are not possible in such a climate for many divorcing couples.

Consequently, variations and refinements to classic birdnesting can reap even more benefits for a family following divorce in a difficult real estate market. Some families have chosen to create separate spaces within the family home. For example, one parent may reside in the master bedroom, while the other creates an apartment-like space in the basement. In other cases, the family creates a separate space above the garage, or in a guest bedroom. Whatever the circumstances may be, some families find this to be the most sensible set up in the interim.


The Reality

All things considered, it is important to recognize that not all families can realistically achieve birdnesting. If you and your co-parent have difficulties getting along, it may be best to explore the more traditional routes of selling the family home to purchase two separate smaller spaces for each parent.

If you and your co-parent choose to attempt birdnesting, it is imperative to come up with written and signed agreements. These agreements should include how the living setup will be executed, along with how household responsibilities and bills will be split up. The TNS Family Law attorneys can assist you in drafting a legally sound contract to avoid ambiguity and contention.

Questions about divorce or birdnesting? Please contact TNS Family Law at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of attorneys is here to help guide you.

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Can I Revise My Divorce Agreement Post-Divorce?

Just when life is resuming a sense of normalcy, and your divorce seems to be in the rearview mirror, a change of circumstances or unexpected information can quickly make a divorce agreement or order seem inappropriate or unfair. Rest assured, you may have options. Many people do not realize that agreements and decrees can be revised in specific instances post-divorce.


Material Change of Circumstance

Your divorce agreement or decree is crafted based upon the circumstances as they exist at the time of separation. But as we all know, life is fluid. When a “material change of circumstance” upsets the practicality and relevance of the agreement or decree, modifications to it might be possible.

While the material change of circumstance standard requires more than minimal changes in the lives or finances of one or both parties, its determination is subjective and variable depending upon the judge and circumstances of each case. The court will ask, “Is this change enough to alter a previous order?” It is important to know that the requisite change does not necessarily equal a singular major change; several small changes might add up to evidence that what was once appropriate is no longer for the family.

Examples of what might meet the bar of a “material change” would be:

  • A former spouse relocating and no longer living near his or her minor children for the purpose of the initially agreed upon or ordered visitation schedule.
  • A notable decrease in income for the person paying alimony, through involuntary job loss or industry changes.
  • A significant change in the physical or mental health of a former spouse or child, altering financial or visitation needs.


Marital Settlement Agreement Modifications

Marital Settlement Agreements are not often subject to change by a court, and judges will uphold the commonly incorporated provision that the divorce terms are non-modifiable. The major exception to this, however, is for purposes of child custody, visitation, and support.

At times, parties who have entered into a divorce agreement may both recognize the need for revision—even if they do not agree upon exact terms. Returning to, or beginning, mediation is an advisable course of action in revision cases. Just as the couple agreed initially on the best interests of their family and finances, the new circumstances warranting an addendum or change should be revisited and reduced to writing for the terms to be enforceable and therefore reliable for all parties.

Mediation is a validating, expeditious, and cost-effective way for former spouses and co-parents to communicate and resolve necessary modifications. Note: it can be tempting to rely upon an oral agreement to change initial settlement terms. This is not advisable and can leave you without redress in the event the other party fails to comply with the new, uncodified, terms in the future.


Divorce Decree Modifications

Divorces obtained accounting to court orders are not modifiable vis a vis property division, which is final. However, alimony, child support, visitation, and custody can be revisited in the event of material changes of circumstance for the parties.


Custody, Visitation, and Child Support

Divorce agreements and decrees are always modifiable in matters affecting the best interests of minor children. The law seeks to protect the special interests and needs of children of divorce, and extreme matters such as parental infirmity and financial hardship are not the only means to modifications. If a parent is consistently late for or misses his or her visitation, is alleged to be an irresponsible caretaker, or a child’s visitation preferences are well-founded, a court may step in and modify an order or agreement to best accommodate a minor child.


Parent Coordination

Often, even the most adversarial parties agree that their children’s health and welfare are paramount and seek to preserve it despite lingering anger and resentment towards each other. If the divorce agreement or order is not working well for their minor child or children, parties can hire a trained and neutral third-party Parent Coordinator. This expert can facilitate parental communication, minimize strife for the child, offer counsel, insight, and solutions for a struggling minor, and coordinate details of visitation smoothly, which impacts a child deeply. TNS Family Law attorneys Alaina Storie and Rebecca Fleming are Parent Coordinators and would be happy to speak to discuss how they can help if you feel that your child’s visitation plan could be improved, logistically or emotionally.

If you have questions about modifying your divorce agreement, please contact TNS Family Law at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Divorce Attorney
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?
What Are the Grounds For Absolute Divorce in Maryland?
Maryland Divorce FAQs

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