Bird’s Nest Custody- It’s a Thing

a white bird sitting on a wall

A divorce in which children are involved requires that the children’s needs be considered.

One custody arrangement gaining momentum in the U.S. and abroad takes that consideration to a new level. It’s called “bird’s nest custody,” and it is child-centric in a way that is unlike any other custody arrangement.

Bird’s nest custody is a co-parenting arrangement in which the parents adapt to a new living arrangement after a divorce, instead of the children being forced to live part-time with Mom in her house, and part-time with Dad in his house. The children remain in the family home and the parents take turns moving in and out, “like birds alighting and departing the nest,” according to Psychology Today.

The divorced parents live in a separate dwelling when they aren’t at home with their children. That home may be their own, or a second home the divorced parents share.

Bird’s nest parenting is thought to have originated in 2000, when a Virginia court agreed that the best solution for two young children involved them staying in their family home, according to an article in The Telegraph.

This option is most successful when the parents are co-parenting, rather than being in an arrangement where there is a custodial parent and a “visiting” parent, the Psychology Today article stated.

“Because divorce can become contentious and emotions often are raw, this arrangement isn’t suitable for every couple,” says John Griffith. “However, in situations where the split is amicable and both parents want to put their children’s needs above their own needs, this is an option.”

The divorcing couple typically chooses this living arrangement voluntarily, but there is at least one case of it being court-ordered, The Telegraph article stated. In a 2003 Canadian ruling, a judge “told parents to stop treating their children like ‘frisbees’ and imposed bird’s nest custody without either party requesting it.”

Although it has some obvious setbacks, going the bird’s nest custody route has benefits. It prevents the need for parents to duplicate belongings. When a couple divorces and establishes separate households, they each need beds, clothes, furniture, etc. for the children. Parents who can work together can share both households, instead of establishing three: the family home, and a separate home or apartment for each parent.

This parenting option is big in New York City, partly because housing options are limited and expensive, according to an article in The New York Times. Many divorcing couples choose bird’s nest custody for economic reasons, as well as for their children’s sake.

Bird’s nest custody is something to consider if you and your spouse are divorcing, but remain on friendly terms. This arrangement can be included in your divorce decree.