If you're considering of involved in a divorce with kids, you may be dreading the prospect of sharing parenting responsibilities with your ex. Even if you're able to work well together as co-parents, you will still be disrupting your children's lives to a great extent simply because you will be moving into separate households. Now, your kids will have to pack their bags and move every week or so in order to spend time with the other parent.
What if you could be the ones packing your bags? It's a real possibility. It's called "bird nesting," and it involves the parents taking turns in the family home where the kids live full time. The arrangement has gotten some mainstream attention after being featured in the new ABC comedy "Splitting Up Together."
Bird nesting can be a short-term arrangement that helps children transition from living with mom and dad together to living with each one separately. There is no legal reason, however, why it could not be a long-term arrangement.
According to at least one expert, bird nesting can be especially beneficial for kids with special needs. Some such kids might do better dealing with one challenge at a time, so staying in the family home full time while the parents rotate in and out could be easier for them to handle.
It can also be beneficial for people who have another reason to delay moving out of the family home. For example, if you rent, you may benefit from allowing the lease to run out before you move. If you own a home, you might wish to wait for the market to improve.
One downside is the expense. In order for bird nesting to work, each parent needs a separate household to live in while the other is staying in the family home. In theory, the parents could share the other household, as well, however.
The arrangement may also come with an emotional downside. When you decided to divorce, you were probably hoping to get away from the day-to-day frustrations with your spouse. With bird nesting, you may be apart, but you'll still be sharing the housework.
Bird nesting may work best for parents whose divorces are amicable and who have good communication skills and boundaries. You will need to agree on rules, scheduling, shared and separate expenses, and a method for resolving disputes. On the other hand, you will have to agree on all those issues in order to work well together as co-parents, if in a less intense setting.
Is bird nesting right for your family? Discuss it with your divorce attorney to make sure you understand all the ways it could impact you, then decide.