‘Birdnesting’ may be a term you’ve never heard of, but it’s a growing trend in the divorce community. And while it has the child’s best interests at heart, many argue that it can be detrimental to both the parents’ relationship and the children’s relationship with their parents.
What is Birdnesting?
Also known as “bird’s nest,” this co-parenting arrangement is completely child-centered. Rather than forcing the child to adapt to the needs of the parents and living in two separate homes, the parents adapt to the needs of the child by taking turns moving in and out of a single family home. The situation is similar to birds alighting and then leaving the nest.
When parents are not in the home with the children, they live in a separate home. This can be their own home, or it can be a home that both parents also take turns living in.
Birdnesting can be either a temporary or a permanent solution. In the former case, this approach can make the transition to a divorced family smoother and easier on the child.
If chosen as a long-term arrangement, both parents will continue this routine until the youngest child becomes an adult. At this point, one parent will either buy the other’s interest in the home, or the home will be sold and the proceeds divided between the two parents.
The Benefits of Creating a Bird’s Nest
While not a perfect arrangement, there are some benefits to choosing this co-parenting method. In this type of scenario, children experience less disruption in their normal routines and daily lives. They don’t have to adapt to new living arrangements and aren’t carted back and forth between each parent’s home.
Parents also learn how to cooperate and be civil with their ex after the divorce, which is an important lesson for children to learn.
There are also financial benefits. Both parents can hold onto the marital home until the youngest child turns 18, which allows equity to build up in the home over time. The cost of living may be lower, as the parent’s separate residence can be modest. Parents can live in a studio or a one-bedroom home because the child will not be living there. There’s also no need to worry about buying two sets of clothing or toys.
While birdnesting does sound appealing, experts warn that this approach should be taken with caution. As you can imagine, it doesn’t work well for every parent.
The Trouble with a Bird’s Nest
Birdnesting is not a co-parenting approach that works for everyone. For one thing, parents will need to live in close proximity for this to work, or in the very least, be willing to travel to the family home when it’s their turn to parent.
This arrangement also works best in co-parenting situations, rather than situations when one parent has full custody and the other is the “visiting” parent.
Of course, there’s also the issue of privacy. Although the parents are technically divorced, their living situations are still intimate. They share a space, which can be an issue if new partners come into the picture, and the presence of their former partner will always be there.
If two parents are unable to even be in the same room with each other, the birdnesting approach will not work. Even if parents can be civil, the same old arguments that plagued your marriage will probably come up long after your divorce because you’re still living in such close proximity.
While birdnesting is a novel idea, it will not work for all parents. But if two people can cooperate and put their child’s best interests first, this type of arrangement will make the transition to a divorced family much easier on all children involved.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has a special expertise in working with child custody.You can read more on this topic by visiting our Child Custody & Support blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.