You may have heard birdnesting touted as the next big thing in child custody cases. It’s an option that some families use to provide stability for their children and to allow both parents to stay involved in the children’s lives.
The basics of a birdnesting plan just mean that the parents keep their marital home after divorce, and they do not make the children move out. The custodial parent for any given period of time then moves into the “nest” or the children’s home. The other parent moves out and stays at a third location. The parents swap living situations every so often, meaning the children get the stability of one home.
Looking at it this way makes it clear why the children may prefer this. For them, moving out of the house is nearly as traumatic as the divorce. It may be the only home they have ever known. They could feel like they don’t fit in this new world where they have two homes — which often feels like not having a home at all. Birdnesting fixes that.
The clear downside, though, and the reason that it often doesn’t work, is that parents also have to share that home. Think about the reasons you’re getting divorced. Can you realistically expect to share a living space with your ex? What if one or both of you start dating? What if you can’t agree on how to pay the bills or cover the costs? What if you see each other too much and argue constantly? At the end of the day, you may run into many of the same issues that ended your marriage in the first place.
If you’re considering birdnesting or any other custody situation, make sure you carefully think over your legal options and the true ramifications of any plan.