Birdnesting, also known as “bird’s nest custody” or “nesting,” is a unique arrangement for child custody after divorce or non-marital separation. Unlike traditional custody arrangements where children move between the parents’ separate residences, in birdnesting, the children always stay in a main house, and the parents move in and out as they take turns living with the children.
There are three basic concepts involved with birdnesting. They are as follows:
- Children’s Residence: The children stay in the family home, providing them with a stable environment. There is relatively little disruption to their living arrangements. They still get to go to the same school, for instance, and daily routines don’t have to change.
- Rotation of Parents: As noted above, the parents take turns living in the main house according to a prearranged schedule. The parent who is not living with the children has their own place. Then, when the schedule dictates, they switch places. The schedule is for them, rather than for the children.
- Parental Off-Duty Residence: When the parents are not living in the family home with the children, they have their separate residences where they stay during their off-duty periods. To make this more affordable, some co-parents will also share the other residence, which they each use when not living with the kids.
This arrangement aims to prioritize the children’s stability and minimize the disruption caused by divorce. It allows parents to share the responsibility of caring for their children without requiring the children to shuttle between different homes. It also provides children with a sense of consistency and familiarity by allowing them to stay in the same environment.
What makes it difficult?
Birdnesting can be a temporary arrangement and might not be a long-term solution. Cooperation and communication between the parents are a must for it to work effectively. Some couples do not want to work together this closely after ending a marriage. Birdnesting can also be financially challenging, as it involves maintaining multiple households for the parents while ensuring the children’s needs are met in the family home.
While birdnesting can offer benefits in certain situations, it might not be suitable for every family. It’s essential for parents to carefully consider their children’s well-being and the unique factors of their specific case before committing to any particular approach. Seeking legal guidance proactively can help with this assessment process.