For divorcing couples, the effects of the divorce on the children is of paramount concern. Recently, a new approach to living situations during divorce has been found to mitigate some of the disruption that occurs in kids’ lives. “Bird nesting,” sometimes called “nesting,” is a creative living arrangement some couples are using during their divorce proceedings and beyond.
What Is Bird Nesting?
Bird nesting is the term used to describe the arrangement for when each parent takes turns living in the marital home. This means that the children don’t move from one house to the other – it is the parents who move and alternate living spaces. The term comes from birds, where the babies stay in the nest and the mother and father fly in and out of it while taking care of them.
For example, let’s assume that Megan and Doug are getting divorced. They have a marital home in White Plains and two young children. On her custodial days with the children, Megan lives in the White Plains home with the kids. During that time, Doug lives in his apartment in Ardsley. On Doug’s custodial days he lives in the White Plains home, while Megan resides at her own apartment in Harrison.
Is Bird Nesting Right for Your Family?
The benefit to bird nesting is that it allows children to stay at home where they feel more comfortable and secure. They are surrounded by familiar things. And it gives them time to adapt to changes in the family. For the parents, this arrangement may also help ease the financial burden that often accompanies divorce.
A bird nesting situation can be particularly appropriate if the separation occurs in the middle of an academic year. And practically speaking, it can be easier for the parents to move their own items, rather than having to keep track of children’s stuff.
A bird nesting arrangement can be tailor-made to fit any situation. Yet it’s important to note that the situation isn’t right for everyone. Parents must be able to communicate effectively and work together to make the situation work. And a couple must be comfortable with sharing space with the person from whom they’re getting divorced.
Legal Implications of Bird Nesting
The bird nesting arrangement should be written up into a formal agreement. This can be included in a custody agreement. The details should specify:
- Duration of the agreement
- What happens when the agreement ends
- How expenses will be divided and paid
- The details for finding a second place to live
Contact us today if you’re considering a divorce with a bird nesting arrangement. The lawyers at Pappalardo & Pappalardo, LLP will work with attorneys John Guttridge and Jo-ann Cambareri to provide you the answers to all your matrimonial and family law questions.
- Susan Pease Gadoua, “Are You Getting a Divorce and Thinking About Nesting?”, Psychology Today (Feb. 6, 2019). Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemplating-divorce/201902/are-you-getting-divorce-and-thinking-about-nesting (last accessed Feb. 12, 2021).
- The Divorce and Beyond Podcast, “A View From the Nest: The Surprising Upsides of a Birdnesting Custody Arrangement with Beth Behrendt” (Aug. 10, 2020). Available at: https://youtu.be/QwLt7p_tqaw (last accessed Feb. 12, 2021).
- Beth Behrendt, “After Divorce, Giving Our Kids Custody of the Home,” New York Times (May 30, 2017). Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/30/well/family/after-divorce-giving-our-kids-custody-of-the-home.html (last accessed Feb. 12, 2021).