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Thinking About Shared Custody In A New Way: Birdnesting


Children of divorce watch powerless as their parents split, changing family life forever.  They often spend years living out of a backpack as they haul clothes, homework, and equipment for their sports or music classes for the weekend. It can be incredibly stressful, and many kids find themselves with a big hole in their hearts for a very long time.  Is there anything parents can do to make the divorce transition easier for the smallest victims of divorce?

A Concept Gaining Steam 

Across the country and in Europe, birdnesting—or nesting–offers families of divorce a new way to think about custody and visitation.  Rather than having children move from one parent’s home to another, nesting keeps kids in their home, and has the parents do the packing and moving in compliance with the terms of the custody agreement.  That’s right: kids stay in the family home.  If Mom has Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, she brings her gear and stays in the family home on those days.  She packs up and leaves on Thursday, when Dad comes to stay with the kids.  The cycle runs along according to whatever family plan works for the family in question.

How do Kids Like it? 

Supporters of the nesting concept believe it allows kids to adjust to a major change in their lives—divorce—with fewer serious issues.  There are a number of factors that likely contribute to this conclusion:

  • Parents necessarily must be extremely accommodating with the kids and one another, modeling respect and kindness;
  • Children learn to cooperate by watching their parents practice cooperation, and see that the end of a marriage does not mean the end of civility;
  • Both parents spend time with kids in the familiar place of comfort;
  • The stress of trying to remember what might be needed when spending time with the “other” parent is eliminated.

One adult who experienced birdnesting herself as a child when her own parents divorced applauds the concept. As an 11-year old, the announcement that her parents were splitting was devastating. But birdnesting kept her in something of a “bubble” allowing her parents to do the heavy lifting in the divorce.

How Long Can Birdnesting Last? 

For some families, nesting goes on for years and works just fine.  But it requires significant mental, emotional, and physical adjustments, and other families prefer to limit the time frame to just a year, or a few months.  Even that, proponents say, gives children a solid cushion of time in which to adjust to the fact that their lives are changing.

Is Birdnesting for You? 

Every family is different, but if yours is willing to take on the potential challenges and benefits of birdnesting, the dedicated Boca Raton child custody attorneys at WiseLieberman are here to support you. Whatever your divorce or family law needs are, you can count on committed attention to your needs. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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