What is “bird-nest” co-parenting?

The breakdown of relationships where children are present provides a great deal of challenges for those involved.  One of the more unusual solutions, aimed at providing the maximum stability for the children is “bird-nest” co-parenting.  But what does that mean?

Most people are familiar with the idea of shared parenting arrangements that result in children moving between parents and consequently between residences.  Bird-nest co-parenting instead provides for the children to stay at one residence but with their parents taking turns moving in and out.

So instead of the children having to pack bags each weekend or every second week, remembering to take everything the need for school, sport and other activities, they get to stay put.  One room, one bed, all their belongings in one place in the family home.

Meanwhile, mum and dad take turns leaving in the home with the children or alternatively leaving somewhere else.

It could be a week at a time, half a week each with alternate weekends or any other combination that works for those involved.

It’s easy to see why this situation is not for everyone.  Potential challenges include:

  • The couple continuing to share a space (even if not at the same time) and the risk of ongoing domestic stress
  • The need for finances to remain linked, particularly if the cost of the family home is continuing to be shared
  • The cost of two people potentially needing to maintain three residences.
  • New relationships may be put under strain or new partners may have trouble accepting the unusual arrangement

Despite the pitfalls some separating couples do find it a suitable arrangement, particularly if their children are young and there is little to no ill will involved.  It can also be a temporary solution that lets the family adjust to a new dynamic more gradually then an immediate and complete separation of households.

Please contact a member of our family law team for more information if you are contemplating a bird-nest parenting arrangement as there are particular legal issues you may need to be aware of.

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