Coates & Davenport, P.C.

'Birdnesting' is a unique approach to child custody after divorce

If parents go through a divorce, it is a huge transition not just for them, but for their child as well. Parents in Virginia may be concerned about how their child will cope with transferring between two separate homes. Thus, parents will try to establish a parenting plan that disrupts the child's life as little as possible. One creative way for doing so is through "birdnesting."

Through birdnesting, it is not the child but the parents that will rotate between living in the family home and living in a separate home. So, one parent will live in the family home when it is their turn to have custody of the child, while the other parent lives in a separate residence. Then, when it is the other parent's turn to have custody of the child, that parent takes their turn living in the family home while the other parent lives in the separate residence. Thus, the child continues to live entirely in the family home they are familiar with, and parents will take turns residing with the child per the terms of their parenting plan.

Birdnesting takes a lot of cooperation and communication. It is important to address roles and responsibilities from the get-go. Both parents should be on the same page, not just regarding who will live in the family home and when, but also how they will maintain the home. For example, they will want to decide who is responsible for cleaning the home and going grocery shopping. If they share a separate residence, similar arrangements must be made with regard to that residence.

Birdnesting can provide stability to a child, but it requires parents to stay in contact with one another and work together despite their divorce. Therefore, birdnesting will sometimes be a temporary arrangement, lasting only as long as it takes for the child to process the divorce before having to live in two separate homes. It is an unusual form of child custody, but some families may benefit from it in the long run.

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