During and after a divorce, kids often end up spending time in two homes. They may get two of everything, but there is a lot more travel involved than before — and that can be inconvenient and disruptive. In an effort to reduce the upheaval, some parents have turned the typical shared parenting arrangement inside out. Now, instead of the child traveling from one parent’s home to the other, the parents are doing the traveling.
It’s called “bird nesting,” and the idea is to have the children remain in the family home full time, while each parent lives there part time. While bird nesting isn’t new, it is getting more attention thanks to a new sitcom called “Splitting Up Together” which features the arrangement.
Could bird nesting be a solution to your child custody and parenting issues? Before you try it, you should be aware of some pros and cons.
One of the main advantages is that the children don’t have to be uprooted. This can be especially important for children with autism or other conditions that make stability a must.
It can also be helpful for people who would benefit from the passage of time. For example, you might need to wait for the lease on the family apartment to expire. Or, the value of your house might be headed in the wrong direction just now, necessitating a wait before you sell.
On the other hand, you will still have issues to work out. You’ll be sharing expenses, naturally, but also space and housework. You’ll have to agree on a schedule and negotiate reasonable terms. Plus, it can be expensive to maintain individual households for each parent in addition to the shared home.
It could also continue or exacerbate the emotional issues that led to your divorce. One divorce financial advisor who tried bird nesting commented to CNBC that “the arrangement didn’t help out with separateness and healing. It was just more of the same.”
However, if your divorce is relatively amicable and you are good at negotiating the realities of shared life, you might find bird nesting a positive arrangement for your family.
Thoroughly discuss the proposed arrangement and set up clear rules on sharing expenses, chores and any potential issues that might crop up. Set up a way to resolve disputes. Consider a trial run or a short-term arrangement with an option to renew. Your lawyer can help you make sure all your bases are covered.
Perhaps most important, be sure your children understand what’s happening, are comfortable with the idea, and aren’t confused about whether bird nesting means you’re getting back together.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Sheehan, Barnett, Dean, Pennington, Dexter & Tucker, P.S.C. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.