“Birdnesting” is a custody arrangement that some Alabama parents may try after divorce. With birdnesting, children remain in the family home while the parents switch in and out. Most of the time, the parents alternate living in a small apartment. The idea behind birdnesting is to give children a stable environment in which to start adjusting to their parents’ divorce. However, experts say that if the arrangement goes on too long, it can be more detrimental than it is helpful.
Experts recommend limiting birdnesting to about three to six months. Beyond this point, they say children can start to feel anxiety about what their lives will be like as they split their time between households. Kids may also develop a false hope that their parents will get back together. Prolonging the arrangement also raises the likelihood that parents will start to run into conflict over sharing homes.
People can take other steps to help their children adjust, such as ensuring that the kids do not have to change schools and their routines remain the same. Parents can also facilitate their kids’ ongoing relationship with other family members, keep rules the same between households and avoid arguing with one another in front of the children.
Parents have a number of other options for child custody and visitation that they may be able to negotiate. Some children might also want to participate in creating the schedule. Parents may agree to share custody, in which case the children will spend roughly half their time with each parent. One parent may have primary custody while the other person has visitation rights. Some parents may think of visitation rights as just being one or two weekends a month, but they can be much more generous.
Source: NBC News, “‘Birdnesting’ gives kids one stable home after a divorce. Does it work?” Nicole Spector, November 13, 2018