When couples with children divorce, they need to make many decisions, including physical custody, now known as Parenting Time. Traditional child custody often provides for one parent to be the primary physical custodian, while the other parent is allowed visitation. Through the years, the laws have become more flexible about parenting time, and now most courts expect that both parents will play significant roles in the lives of their children after a divorce. There is a significant trend towards both parents sharing roughly equal parenting time. Bird nesting is a relatively new concept where children remain in one home while the parents take turns cycling in and out.

Alternative to Traditional Custody

The concept of bird nesting is quite simple. The children continue to live in their family home, just as they did before the divorce. Rather than shuffling off to a parent’s home for parenting time, they stay in the home and the parents come and go. For example, parents may work out a schedule where one parent lives in the home with the children four days a week, and the other parent lives there the other three days. It’s an interesting concept, but not one that every family can make work. This arrangement requires strict rules about who pays the expenses of the residence and when one or both parents can “opt out” of the arrangement (and what happens following that event).  It also demands a measure of trust that each parent will be respectful of continuing to share space.

Making Bird Nesting Work

Bird nesting is not just for celebrity couples, or those who have high income levels. Today, average couples across the country are making bird nesting work. It is an option that requires a lot of planning. Couples must be able to have other places to live during the times they are not living in the family home. While this can be expensive, there are some ways to reduce the expense. Parents may live with a family member during their “off” times, or they may share an apartment, although they are not actually living together at the same time.  They may also find long-term furnished rental apartments that fit their needs.

Parenting Arrangements 

Of course, bird nesting is only one alternative. It is usually only an option for divorced couples who remain on good terms. It also may simply be a temporary option while longer-term plans are being made.  Bird nesting does have some advantages. First and foremost, it clearly ensures that the children’s needs are met. Children will likely have less anxiety and stress about the divorce when they are able to remain in their own home. Couples may find that they can enjoy their home, and agree to sell it later, after the children are grown. This can be a good decision in cases where the home value will increase. Finally, bird nesting makes sense for families who wish to remain close. An experienced divorce attorney will assist you in learning how to set up a parenting arrangement that works for your family whether Bird Nesting is an option, or not.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Bird Nesting, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Steven H. Everts at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.