When getting divorced, parents must divide up custody of their children. The traditional way to do this is to set up a schedule where the children live with each parent for a set amount of time. For example, they may spend one week with their mother and then the following week with their father.
An alternative to this approach is known as birdnesting. Under specific circumstances, birdnesting can be better for a family than a more traditional approach to custody.
Adults move with the schedule
The basic foundation of birdnesting is that a child custody schedule is still constructed, but it’s for the adults, not the children.
Parents keep a central home where their children will always live. Oftentimes, this just means that they do not sell their family home when they divide their assets. They keep it and allow the children to live there 100% of the time. This can be beneficial for the children because they’re still near the same school, they don’t have to move away from their friends, they don’t have to commute between two homes, etc.
To share custody, the parents move in and out. If the mother has parenting time for a week, she lives with the children in the family home. When her parenting time ends and the father takes over, she moves out and he moves in.
What are the downsides?
There are some downsides. For one thing, parents have to find other living situations when they don’t have custody, which can be expensive. Additionally, parents still have to work together to clean the house, cover maintenance costs and simply share that space in a way that most divorced couples would not. This can sometimes make it more difficult for couples who are not on the best of terms after ending their marriage.
Considering your options
If nothing else, birdnesting illustrates that there are many different child custody structures to consider. Take the time to think through your legal options if you’re getting divorced. You may be able to find a solution that fits your life better than you realized possible.