When parents get divorced or separated, they must decide how to split time with their children. Traditionally, for shared child custody agreements, the children live with one parent part-time and go with the other parent on the weekends, every other week, or however the parenting plan is structured. This requires the children to move from one home to the next, every week, for years, until they are old enough to be out of the house.
Another option for parents who have shared custody has gained in popularity. Birdnesting, or just nesting for short, keeps the child in one home while the parents come and go. This requires the parents to each have their own separate living situation, or to share a separate home together; birdnesting parents do not have to ever sleep under the same roof or spend time with one another, however.
Birdnesting Offers Children More Stability
We know much more about child psychology and development today than three or four decades ago when mothers were almost always given full custody. Children of divorce or separation do best when they spend regular, daily time with both parents, not just one. Children also do better when they have stability in their lives. Stability offers predictability, routine, and consistency, which are all paramount to child development. Birdnesting offers the best of both of these worlds — spending equal or close to equal time with each parent while living in the most stable environment possible. Continually packing, unpacking, being driving to dad’s house on odd weeks and mom’s house on even weeks, sleeping in different rooms half the time, not having access to certain toys and other comforts — this all reduces a child’s sense of stability.
Reducing Conflict Benefits Children in the Long Run
Around 10 to 15 percent of divorces involve high levels of hostility and substantial litigation over visitation and custody. While all children of divorce have an increased risk of developing “maladaptive psychological, social, emotional, and behavioral symptoms,” compared to children that have not gone through a parental divorce, children whose parents have high-conflict divorces are at an even higher risk of detrimental psychological problems. As such, birdnesting is not a good option for parents who cannot get along amicably, who argue or fight routinely, or who have had their marriages dissolved through litigation, as opposed to mediation or through lower stress mutual agreement.
Birdnesting Can Be Short-Term
Birdnesting may be done long-term or short-term, the latter being the more common choice. Nesting for half a year during the divorce or after the divorce can help your children adjust and adapt to a new living situation. Birdnesting may be too complex to do year after year for some parents.
A DuPage County Child Custody Attorney Can Help
Whether birdnesting sounds appealing to you or you prefer to use more traditional child custody and visitation methods, the skilled DuPage County family law attorneys at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group are here to help and support you. Call us today at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation.