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Why are more couples choosing birdnesting after divorce?

In a family law context, birdnesting or simply nesting allows the children to stay (usually) in the family home and spend time with each parent caring for them in the main home.

Depending on the agreement they reach, both parents take turns living in the main family home with the children and alternative accommodation, perhaps renting or with family/friends – usually nearby – between their time with the children.

Why are more couples choosing birdnesting after divorce?

Couples with children are increasingly starting to explore this new living arrangement after divorce.  The aim of this arrangement is to provide stability for the children.

It can alleviate the emotional and unsettling impact of moving between their parents’ new homes which may not be close to friends and schools, as well as helping the parents to relieve the financial burden of providing a second home that meets the children’s needs.

What are the benefits of birdnesting after divorce? 

Although there is no qualitative data showing how birdnesting improves a child’s wellbeing after divorce compared to other more traditional set-ups,  it does give both parents and children an opportunity to adjust to their new lives while the experience of separating is still raw.  This seems logical.  Children often crave stability following a separation by remaining in their home with same bedroom.

They can also continue to enjoy the support of their local friendship group.  This could be lost if they had to move away from their local area, their schools, and their extracurricular activities.  Staying where they are also enables them to continue with their current routine.

What are the negatives of birdnesting?

Critics of the arrangement believe that in reality birdnesting will only work for a small percentage of families for a limited period of time.  Children will need to adjust to the parents’ separation, the children and nesting means the parents are left in a state of limbo.  Parents could be sending signals to the children that there is false hope that their parents may reconcile.   If the divorce was particularly difficult for the children with the children experiencing their parents arguing and any bitterness, they may not see the family home as a happy and settled environment and a new start may be a better decision.

Another medium term complexity to navigate is the likelihood that at some point their family home may need to be sold for practical and/or financial reasons.  This means ultimately change is inevitable.  

What are the effects of birdnesting for the parents?

The picture is equally mixed for the parents.  It does relieve some of the pressure about making immediate decisions about the future, giving the children some stability while their parents work out the best long-term co-parenting arrangements.

Birdnesting can also help save money while both parents’ financial reserves are probably stretched.   There is less pressure to sell the family home to raise immediate funds for two new homes.  There is also no need to buy a new set of toys, books bedroom furniture, and clothes for the children for the second home.

Parents do, however, need to be able to work out what comes next for themselves after a divorce.  They need to learn how to live on their own and how best to move on from their break-up.  There may be constant reminders of your former partner that you will see when using the same properties.  and so parents will need clear boundaries and it will be imperative to maintain a good relationship with each other.  Paying bills, sharing the shopping, cleaning, house maintenance and parenting together can be challenging.

Rotating between the family home and a second shared home will become even more difficult if either parent begins a new relationship and this is where a good agreement needs to be put in place with the relevant boundaries and agreement as to what will happen if one person no longer feels the arrangement is working.

Birdnesting is only one of the childcare options open to separating couples, if you would like to explore these options with one of our highly experienced family lawyers, please contact us or call us today.