We know a lot more about the psychological needs of children today than we used to. At least we hope we do. That’s why, in Arkansas and all other states, the primary tenet that family courts try to follow is one that puts the best interests of the children foremost on the agenda.

Many considerations might need to be addressed when sorting out child custody, support and parenting plan issues. The courts tend to consider it a plus if the parents can come up with solutions on their own. But in the end, it is the court that has to sign off on the overall plan based on what it considers the best interest of the children. Knowing what will fly with a given court only comes with experience.

Over the past several decades, a lot of new ideas about what the ideal parenting situation might be have been generated. Many have been studied by social workers and psychologists and that has led to broadly accepted notions about what constitutes best interest. Concepts are expressed by words like stability, unconditional love, humor, positive reinforcement, compassion for others and oneself, and allowing imperfection. But there is no single recipe for success. Each child’s needs are different.

One intriguing idea that has come into vogue in recent years is called bird nest co-parenting. Experts agree that it is not for everyone, but some laud the model because of its focus on child-centricity.

What it requires is something of a reversal of roles. Rather than following what might be considered a typical model with the children shuttling between the homes of the two parents, the children stay in the family home and the parents are the ones who do the shuttling.

Experts say the good thing about bird nesting is that children suffer less disruption of their lives. The down side can be that it could require the parents to find two separate residences or rotate through one residence on different schedules.

What is clear that the parents give up a lot of their own personal freedom under such a model. But if the parents agree it can work financially, emotionally and physically, it’s possible the court would find it easy to give its stamp of approval.