When parents divorce, one of their tasks is to determine the custody arrangement that best suits their children’s needs. Bird nesting is an option that is gaining traction.
In this type of arrangement, the children do not move between their parents’ separate residences. Rather, the children remain in the family home, while the parents take turns living there according to a set schedule. The term “bird nesting” comes from the behavior of some bird species, where parents take turns caring for their young in the same nest.
Advantages of bird nesting
Bird nesting allows children to stay in their familiar home environment, offering them a sense of stability during a tumultuous period. They do not have to shuttle between two homes, which can be emotionally challenging.
This type of arrangement, when done correctly, can be especially helpful for children and teens who struggle with their mental health. For example, about 9.4% of children 3 to 17 years old have anxiety, while 4.4% have depression.
Since the children remain in the family home, they experience less disruption in their daily lives. They attend the same school, have the same friends and maintain a consistent lifestyle.
Bird nesting encourages parents to work together closely. They must communicate effectively and share responsibilities for the upkeep of the family home and the children’s care, fostering a cooperative co-parenting relationship. Bird nesting can also provide a gradual transition for both parents and children. It allows time for everyone to adjust to the new circumstances before implementing a more traditional custody arrangement.
Disadvantages of bird nesting
Bird nesting can be relatively expensive. For instance, maintaining multiple residences may turn out to be financially burdensome. Parents must cover the costs of their own separate living spaces in addition to the family home.
Also, coordinating schedules and living arrangements can be complex. Parents need to carefully plan their time in the family home to avoid conflicts and ensure a smooth transition.
Living in the family home during noncustodial periods may lead to a lack of privacy for parents. Personal boundaries can blur and potentially cause tension. Bird nesting can be emotionally taxing for parents as they navigate shared spaces and memories. It can be challenging to move on with their lives while still living in a shared home with their former partner.
Ultimately, the suitability of bird nesting as a custody arrangement depends on the unique circumstances and preferences of each family. Parents need to weigh these pros and cons carefully.