In attempting to arrive at child custody arrangements that create the least disruption possible, many divorcing couples are agreeing to what is known as “bird-nesting.” Bird-nesting involves having the child or children continuing to live in the family home while each parent revolves in and out of the house, much as birds depart and return to the nest where their eggs and young rest. Whatever parent has custody at a given moment lives in and manages the house, while the other parent lives in a separate dwelling: the two can either share a single “away” residence and rotate in and out, or each can have their own separate living space.

Though there is no doubt that bird-nesting provides the children with a sense of continuity and has the advantage of avoiding the need for duplicate toys, clothing and furnishings in two separate households, the arrangement requires an extraordinary level of cooperation and the ability for both parents to set aside the relationship issues that drove them to divorce in the first place. Even in situations where parents can put their child’s needs first, there are likely to be issues regarding cleaning and maintaining each home, and once either or both parents become involved with a new partner or partners, additional concerns and challenges arise.

Bird-nesting can work, but only when there is almost total agreement on all aspects of parenting, from discipline and diet. Parents need to be able to communicate with each other on a high level to ensure that each knows about homework assignments and doctors’ appointments, though this is also true in situations where parents live separately and the child travels back and forth between their separate homes.

For many couples going through a divorce, birds-nesting offers an attractive interim solution to helping their child transition into their new family reality. If you are interested in pursuing a birds-nest arrangement, it is strongly advised that you do so with the assistance of a detailed parenting plan and living arrangement schedule so that there is no question as to who lives where when and what time anybody arrives or departs. If the goal is to minimize conflict in front of the children, then negotiating the terms of a birds-nest arrangement is essential. For assistance in this process, or with any other aspect of your divorce, contact Reinherz Law today.

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