When couples get divorced, a typical custody arrangement involves each parent living in their own home and the children moving back and forth between these homes. A child may live with one parent for a week and then live with the other parent for the following week, for example.
But birdnesting flips these roles around. The children always live in the same house. Instead of telling them when to move, the custody schedule tells the parents when they are supposed to move in and have court-appointed parenting time. When it is not their turn to exercise these parenting-time rights, they live in another location and their ex lives in the house with the children.
What are the benefits and the disadvantages?
One of the benefits of birdnesting is that it is more stable for the children. They often feel more comfortable because they’re in the same house all the time. They don’t have conflicts over scheduling, they always know that they have their clothes and toys at their house, and they may even get to stay in the same marital home where they lived before the divorce. Life feels consistent and comfortable.
The biggest disadvantage is just financial. Parents who use birdnesting need to have another place to live – which may mean two other homes or apartments, one for each of them – and they need to share the costs of the children’s home. This can all be very expensive, which means that this is not a realistic solution for all couples.
But it still does help to show why it is so important to carefully consider all of the options that you have for child custody during a divorce. Look into your legal options carefully.