Birdnesting – a potential option for separating parents?

‘Birdnesting’ is a relatively new concept and occurs when the children of a separating couple sleep every night in their own beds in the former family home and their parents alternately stay in the home. Subsequently, the parents share the care of the children. The idea often varies greatly, but the fundamental principle is that the children’s surroundings do not change.

Family and divorce lawyers regularly deal with cases where two separating parents want a shared care arrangement to work following their separation, but the finances are not enough to provide two separate homes. ‘Birdnesting’ could be a viable option for those in this situation.

Segregation of the home could, in theory, lead to both parents continuing to share it, whilst still having their own space and always being at home with the children. However, in reality, this is highly unusual and is not viable for most people –- although it can work in the very exceptional cases when post separation or divorce, the parents still get on with each other very well and are not in any way jealous of seeing their ex-partner living their own life.

In particular, where one parent meets a new partner it may well cause difficulties for all parties, especially when both parents continue to live under the same roof. Even if you still good your ex-partner, you will need to give considerable thought to the practicalities of this kind of highly unusual family arrangement.

Among the numerous problems that could well arise are delaying emotional closure in the parents following the breakup of the relationship, the child’s acceptance of their parent’s separation and decisions regarding cost and benefit distribution. The pitfalls do not necessarily make the idea prohibitive and some people will want to find a way to overcome these problems for their children’s benefit.