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Could birdnesting custody work for your family?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | FAMILY LAW - Child Custody |

When parents divorce, their children typically are the ones who suffer the most. While the spouses may feel relief at finally being free of one another and the constant conflicts they’ve faced, the kids mourn the loss of the nuclear family.

These losses are magnified when the kids must transition out of the family home to go stay with their other parent during custody time.

It doesn’t have to be like that

For parents willing to think outside the box, one type of custody that is gaining traction here in New Jersey is birdnesting. The phrase comes from the avian world, where the male and female birds share parenting duties for their young nestlings. They fly in and out of the nest, dividing up the tasks of supervision and foraging for food for their babies.

Essentially, that’s what human parents do as well in birdnesting custody. The children remain in their familiar home, in their own rooms, playing with the same neighborhood kids and attending the same schools while their parents shuttle themselves in and out of the home during their custody periods.

Why it can work

Birdnesting gives the kids an extra boost of stability at a time when they most need it. While divorce can definitely be traumatic to minors, birdnesting can alleviate most of the uncertainties that accompany the split.

How it could be problematic

This usually is a better solution for families where the co-parents are higher earners, as it can be more expensive than traditional custody-sharing. Essentially, the parents are supporting three households post-divorce: the family home where the kids stay and whatever accommodations each co-parent has for their time away from their children.

Also, it could be dicey when either parent enters a new romantic relationship. That might require a reassessment of the custody arrangements.

Could it work for your family?

Ultimately, that’s a decision that only the parties involved can make. The family law courts will never order this type of custody outright but generally will sign off on the agreement that the co-parents willingly design.