One term you may have heard thrown around lately when it comes to parents and divorce is birdnesting. Birdnesting is a living arrangement strategy that some parents have been turning to in the wake of a split.
Generally, in a birdnesting arrangement, the kids continue to live in the family home and the parents rotate living with them. Sometimes, in these arrangements, the parents get a shared apartment that they rotate using when it is not their “turn” to live with the kids in the family home.
This is in contrast to more traditional shared custody arrangements in which each parent lives at their own location and the kids rotate living at these two locations.
Goals parents may have for going with birdnesting include making the divorce transition easier for the kids and trying to keep things amicable within the family.
Now, many things can impact how likely a birdnesting arrangement is to be effective at achieving positive goals, including:
- How long the arrangement is used: Experts generally recommend that birdnesting only be used as a short-term arrangement, such as just for a few months. There are concerns that birdnesting for long periods of time could be confusing for kids. For example, there is the potential for it to lead to kids having unrealistic expectations about their parents reconciling.
- How well the parents get along: There can be a lot of potential points of parental conflict within a birdnesting arrangement. So, this arrangement could be problematic for ex-spouses that have a lot of trouble getting along and are prone to conflict.
- Financial situation: There can be a lot of costs connected to birdnesting, including the costs related to maintaining the family home. If there are struggles in meeting these costs, it could lead to financial and emotional stress.
So, there are many situations in which birdnesting may not be a viable option for a divorcing couple. When it comes to the family living arrangement after a split, it is important for parents to go with a route that is a good fit for their family’s circumstances.
Whatever family living arrangement divorcing parents go with, it is important for the parents to keep their kids’ interests and needs front and center. It can also be important for them to set clear rules and expectations for how the arrangement will go. A detailed and clear child custody agreement can help with this.