Curious Parents

To Make Divorce Easier, Some Parents Are Turning To "Birdnesting"

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Typically, a child of divorce (or separation) must get used to a lot of moving around: perhaps Mom's house during the week, and Dad's on the weekends. But, what would happen if the tables turned? Instead of disrupting the kids, some parents are opting to do all of the house swapping. It's a type of co-parenting known as bird's nest custody, or simply "birdnesting."

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Whose Burden To Bear?

So, how does it work? Usually one of two ways: the parents either keep the house and each maintain separate dwellings, or the parents rotate between the same house and one separate residence. As Psychology Today explains, "a bird's nest arrangement is about ensuring that children's lives are minimally disrupted, while the adults, who are theoretically more able to cope with the disruption, bear the brunt of the changes." They maintain virtually the same routine.

This can be especially beneficial in the beginning stages of divorce, when research shows children experience the biggest brunt of the trauma. Demonstrating that Mom and Dad still get along well enough to share a home is also good for kids in the long-term, since high levels of parental conflict during and after divorce are associated with a more difficult adjustment period for the kids.

Let There Be Peace

Obviously, this isn't a one-size-fits-all situation. The Sydney Morning Herald notes that family experts often recommend birdnesting only during the transition to divorce, while they finalize their permanent custodial agreements, stating that it's "rarely sustainable in the long term." The unique arrangement can come with certain complications, such as a lack of privacy, or an impossible financial burden (i.e., maintaining three homes). It's also pretty difficult to sustain in a high-conflict split where the parents can barely stay in the same city as one another, much less the same home.

Whether or not a bird's nest custody complements your family dynamic, family experts stress the importance of showing your kids that you can still be amicable with each other—whether you're sharing a roof or not.

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