What Is Bird-Nesting or Nesting Co-Parenting?
Bird-nesting or nesting coparenting is a type of living arrangement in which a divorcing/divorced couple’s children stay in the family home, and their parents rotate in and out for their assigned custody time. This method is used to help children through the divorce process and reduce some of the instability they may feel in the early stages of the process.
Some of the benefits of bird-nesting while going through a divorce include:
- Can help reduce the amount of disruption children experience all at once
- Can help reduce children’s stress while their parent’s divorce is in process and the early days post-divorce
- For parents with fairly amicable relationships, it can help them develop a strong foundation for their co-parenting relationship
Typically, bird-nesting is a co-parenting living arrangement that is temporary or short-term. Most parents who choose to utilize this method will only do so while their divorce is pending and for a short period while their new living arrangements are being set up. That said, some families have made bird-nesting work for them in the long term.
When Bird-Nesting Might Be Appropriate
If you and your co-parent decide to try the bird-nesting method, it is important to remember that it requires a lot of communication and cooperation between parents. This can be very difficult during and post-divorce. However, for some families, the benefits will outweigh the cons, and bird-nesting can be a highly beneficial process.
Bird-nesting is most appropriate for families where:
- They can afford to maintain three households without significant financial strain
- Both parents have living arrangements outside the family home to go to during their “off” time
- Helping children retain their current day-to-day routines outweighs any downsides
- The divorce is incredibly disruptive, and keeping children in the family home as long as possible is in their best interest
Regardless of whether you have a good relationship with your co-parent, if you plan on bird-nesting, you will need to set clear boundaries and rules for the arrangement. This is on top of the normal personal boundaries and division of parenting responsibilities associated with establishing your co-parenting relationship.
Important questions to ask when establishing rules and boundaries for nesting co-parenting include:
- How will household duties and chores be handled?
- How will co-parents communicate with each other?
- How will hand-offs be handled?
- What is the protocol for when there is an emergency?
- Can co-parents have friends over or host gatherings during their parenting time?
- Can co-parents have new partners visit the family home during their parenting time?
Disadvantages of Bird-Nesting
While there are some clear benefits to bird-nesting, it can be complicated and expensive. Some people have friends or family they can stay with during their off time, or they have the financial bandwidth to retain their own apartments or other living arrangements while still maintaining the family home. However, this is out of reach for most divorcing couples.
Additionally, suppose you and your spouse are not on amicable terms. In that case, the high level of communication and frequent contact required for bird-nesting can create a new source of stress. In some cases, it can even exacerbate already strained conditions.
It’s important to remember that the goal of nesting co-parenting is to reduce the amount of stress and upset for the children involved. If bird nesting ultimately damages their parents’ co-parenting relationship, it may not be a good idea for them.
Bird-nesting can also be logistically challenging for parents and may create new, complicated daily routines that don’t have the intended effect of easing the children’s transition through the divorce. Parents considering bird-nesting are encouraged to thoroughly investigate all their options and examine what nesting will look like in practice for their family before moving forward with it.
If you are going through a divorce or need help with a custody matter, reach out to the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C. We offer free initial case evaluations.