February 17

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Building Stability for Kids After Divorce: Does The Birdnesting Custody Agreement Work?

By Charlie Fletcher

February 17, 2021

child health, divorce, Home, mental health

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What Does Birdnesting Have To Do With Divorce?

Divorce is never easy. Even when things are amicable and you’ve both agreed to separate, there are so many things to consider and take care of. When children are involved, those considerations are more complicated. The birdnesting divorce custody agreement is a way to make things easier - for everyone. 

Children can experience just as much turmoil through a divorce as adults. The emotional turmoil can take a serious toll, especially on younger children, as they may not understand why they have to live in two homes. They may even wonder if their parents will stop loving them the way they stopped loving each other. 

Because of thoughts like these, divorce can lead to childhood depression, anxiety, and confusion. So, it’s natural for parents to want to eliminate those risks as much as possible. Most experts agree that creating a stable, secure environment for children after a divorce can make a big difference. 

Because of that, some parents are turning toward the practice of birdnesting. 

What Is A Birdnesting Custody Agreement?

The idea of birdnesting after divorce is fairly simple — the children get to stay in the familial home, while the parents take turns coming and going. Whatever custody arrangement you worked out on your own or in the courtroom can still be enforced, but instead of the children having to go from house to house, it’s the parents that leave when it isn’t their time. 

This is typically done by the parents co-renting an apartment, but only one person staying there at a time. They rotate between the apartment and the family home so the children can stay in one place and not have their lives uprooted. It may not be a permanent solution, but it’s often used as a short-term way to transition children from what they are familiar with to a new way of living with one parent at a time.

The biggest birdnesting perks are also the most practical ones, including: 

  • The children can stay in the same school district
  • Their social lives aren’t as drastically affected
  • They can keep family memories in one place
  • It gives them a sense of familiar comfort in a time of uncertainty
birdnesting divorce custody agreement

Birdnesting custody agreements are a great way to not only keep your kids comfortable during the transition, but show them that you and your former spouse can get along and co-parent respectfully.

When you respect your ex, you’re showing your kids how important it is to respect others, too. But every family is different - physical safety and mental health boundaries always come first!

Is A Birdnesting Divorce Custody Agreement Beneficial?

In an ideal world, divorce would end with two respectful ex-partners. However, reality may look a little different. When it comes to birdnesting, would it still be beneficial no matter the circumstance?  

Truthfully, it depends. Not every divorced couple is going to be able to work out a situation where they both get to stay in the family home for periods of time. It also might not work in cases where there is no divorce, so custody arrangements may be different. There needs to be a mutual agreement between the parents for birdnesting to work, and that means setting clear boundaries. 

Mental and Physical Health Come First

It also may not work in cases when one parent wants to have a live-in partner, get remarried, or have another child with someone else. There are so many factors to consider, but the main one should be the mental health and wellbeing of your children. As stated above, children who go through a divorce can be more at risk of developing mental health issues.  

Some of the most common signs include: 

  • Severe mood swings
  • Changes in relationships/friendships
  • Intense worry or fear
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Major changes in behavior
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits

Moving Forward

Ultimately, if you’re not sure whether a birdnesting divorce custody agreement is right for your situation, talk to your kids about it. See how they feel about the idea of that particular arrangement. 

Encourage them to talk to a therapist or school counselor to better process their feelings and express them more thoroughly. Your children may be more willing to open up to a neutral third-party, rather than talking to you or your ex about their living situation preferences.

While birdnesting isn’t right for everyone, if you do get along with your former spouse and you both believe keeping your kids in their “home base” is best, it can be an effective solution, at least in the short-term, to make things more comfortable for everyone.

About the author 

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who enjoys listening to podcasts, tending to her plants, and bingeing reality tv. She has a passion for social justice, workplace issues, and mental health, which you can read more about by visiting her portfolio. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.

Charlie Fletcher is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who enjoys listening to podcasts, tending to her plants, and bingeing reality tv. She has a passion for social justice, workplace issues, and mental health, which you can read more about by visiting her portfolio. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.

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