Birdnesting Divorce: Co-Parenting in the Same House

Could you live in the same house as your ex?

Birdnesting parents choose to take turns living in the family home to spare their kids the trouble of moving. Co-parenting in the same house has become popular due in part to increased awareness about the effects of divorce on children.

Like all parenting arrangements, birdnesting has benefits and risks. There are some things to consider before choosing birdnesting divorce. Find out ways you can make this unique situation work for your family.

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What is birdnesting divorce?

Birdnesting divorce (also called bird's nest custody or birdnesting) is a living arrangement that keeps children in the family home while parents take turns living there. When a parent is not in the family home, they live elsewhere. Birdnesting is meant to keep the burden of the divorce on parents rather than children.

While bird's nest custody usually starts after divorce, some try the living arrangement during divorce. This way, each parent gets a fair share of parenting time and the kids don't have to worry about moving in with a parent only to have to switch homes again if that parent doesn't win custody.

Benefits of birdnesting

There haven't been many studies conducted to prove the effectiveness of birdnesting, yet, there are some potential advantages.

There's less pressure

Going from a two-parent to a one-parent household is a drastic change.

Staying in the family home will give you more time to think about whether you want to sell your home, where you'll eventually move if you do, and the visitation schedule you'll put in place when the time comes.

You won't have to worry about coordinating exchanges, and can come up with a plan that allows you to mold at-home time around your work schedule.

You'll also know that the children's living environment is safe and know where to find them in case of emergency. You could agree to let each other know when you're taking the kids somewhere.

It's easier on the kids

Co-parenting in the same house allows children to stay in familiar surroundings. They won't have to change schools, make new friends or switch between households for visits.

Bird's nest custody could help the children deal with the divorce as they see that the divorce mostly impacts parents since they're rotating in and out of the family home. Living with both parents shows children their parents are committed to parenting together despite their separation.

You share parenting responsibilities

In typical co-parenting arrangements, one parent often ends up taking on most of the parenting responsibilities. Birdnesting divorce requires both parents to step up to care for the children and the family home.

Parents can share tasks like cleaning, preparing meals, helping the kids with homework, etc. Plus, both parents get to spend quality time with the kids. They can be there when the kids reach new milestones and make memories in the same home.

Risks of birdnesting

Critics question whether birdnesting is any more effective than regular co-parenting. Keep these risks in mind before choosing birdnest custody.

The kids might get confused

When children see their parents in the same home, they may begin to think they're getting back together. This can make things confusing, especially if you're bringing new partners into the home as well.

There's also a chance that birdnesting could hurt a child's ability to get through the divorce. They might be in denial that their parents have split. Having to move or live between their parent's homes may help children deal with the reality of the situation and become better equipped to handle difficulties in the future.

There are more chances for confrontation

Birdnesting could create problems divorced parents are trying to avoid. You're trying to prioritize parenting and set aside differences for the kids, but certain things may make this difficult.

You might have different cleaning habits or opinions about who's responsible for replacing food items among other things. While you may be able to tolerate each other's quirks at first, overtime, you might get irritated. Also, there are privacy concerns. Are you comfortable leaving your belongings in the birdnest with the other parent?

You might feel trapped

You got divorced for a reason. Staying in the same home could make you feel like you can't break away from the relationship and move on with your life. Potential partners may feel uncomfortable with your living situation, making dating difficult.

Birdnesting could also make you more anxious as you have to prepare for the unexpected. If a parent loses their outside housing, could you stand living under one roof at the same time? If birdnesting is your living arrangement during divorce, you might feel like the parent could use anything you do within the birdnest against you in court.

Things to consider before birdnesting

Co-parenting in the same house seems straightforward, but there are some things you'll have to consider before diving in.

  • Do you get along? Parents need to be on good terms for birdnesting to work. Parents who don't get along or who were estranged should not try bird's nest custody.
  • Can you afford it? Maintaining two properties can be quite expensive. Make sure you've plotted out just how much housing expenses you'll incur for the birdnest and outside residence.
  • Where will parents live when outside of the birdnest? Some parents choose to share a separate apartment while others stay with friends or family or have their own apartment or house.
  • How far apart do you live or work from the birdnest? Where you live or work should factor in when you're scheduled to live in the birdnest.
  • Will you birdnest long term? Many parents transition away from birdnesting once the kids get used to parents being apart or once the children are a certain age.

Tips on how to make birdnesting work

Birdnesting divorce requires some extra effort to be successful.

Create a parenting plan

If you decide to birdnest, put clear instructions in a parenting plan.

Beyond a schedule that lays out when each parent will live in the bird's nest, your plan should include terms like:

  • When will the birdnesting arrangement end?
  • Are new partners allowed in the home?
  • How will you share chores like cleaning?
  • How will you split mortgage or rent payments?
  • How will you share costs for groceries and other household items?
  • Will you have separate bedrooms?
  • How will you handle schedule interruptions?

Make it clear you're not reconciling

So the kids don't think you're getting back together, explain the arrangement to them and your reasons for birdnesting. Parents shouldn't enter the home during one another's time, and any interactions you do have within the home should be minimal.

Stick to a consistent parenting style

Set boundaries for your children and make sure that both parents enforce them. Let kids know their chores, bedtime, curfew and other expectations you have for them, and the potential repercussions for not following them.

Don't involve the kids in your disagreements

A big reason for choosing bird's nest custody is to spare the kids from conflict. If something upsets you, talk things out in private. If things get especially contentious, consider consulting with a third party to work through your differences.

Communicate effectively

A vital part of birdnesting is being on the same page. Keeping a cleaning schedule and grocery list on the fridge is a straightforward way to communicate your expectations for one another. Also, be upfront about anything that's bothering you within the home, and try to talk through the issue with the other parent so you stay on good terms.

Staying on top of your birdnest custody arrangement

You'll need a thorough parenting plan to make birdnesting work as your living arrangement during divorce or after.

At Custody X Change, we've seen a rise in parents opting to birdnest. Our software enables parents to create custom schedules and lay out the ground rules of their unique living arrangements. All of this is organized into a printable document.

With Custody X Change, managing your birdnesting arrangement is a breeze.

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