Almost every time a Tacoma couple gets divorced, the exes establish separate residences. The children then shuffle back and forth between the parents’ homes. This is the usual way shared child custody works in Washington.
But for many divorced co-parents, the logistics of moving the kids from one home to another every few days are impractical and stressful. And it can make the children feel unsettled and prolong the adjustment period from living in one house with both their parents. The solution might be an alternative arrangement called “birdnesting.”
What is ‘birdnesting?’
Essentially, birdnesting reverses the regular custody arrangement. Instead of living part-time at two homes, the child lives in one place, usually the pre-divorce family home. Meanwhile, their parents switch off living with the child in the home and another location, maybe a nearby apartment. The home becomes the “nest” that the child lives in full-time, giving them greater stability and predictability.
Birdnesting is still fairly rare but becoming more popular in the U.S. and countries like the Netherlands, Australia and the U.K., according to the BBC. In the latter country, about 11 percent of divorced or separated parents had at least experimented with birdnest custody. However, there is little research into whether birdnesting benefits children of divorce more than traditional shared custody. And it may not make much sense when one parent has sole custody, and the other gets fairly brief visitation time.
Adapting child custody to fit your children’s needs
Birdnesting may be something for you and your ex to consider, or you might already know that it’s not for your family. But it is an example of how thinking creatively can help find solutions to often difficult divorce-related matters like child custody.