What Is Bird’s Nest Custody?

Child custody is the most important factor in any divorce case involving minor children. Co-parenting after a divorce is a tricky balance of power that both parties must achieve for the sake of the children. There are endless custody agreement possibilities depending on the desires of both parents. As long as parents can agree on one arrangement, the courts will typically sign off on the chosen schedule. One type of child custody arrangement that’s worked for some families in the past is “bird’s nest custody.”

Understanding Bird’s Nest Custody

Baby birds remain in the same nest until they are ready to take flight and leave. Bird’s nest custody treats the residence where children of a marriage live like a bird’s nest. The children will remain in the “nest” while the parents come and go according to the agreed-upon schedule. This is different from other arrangements wherein the children live in one parent’s home part time and the other parent’s home part time. Instead of moving the children back and forth, the parents share time at one home. Typically, one parent will leave when the other comes home and vice versa, while the children remain in the house full time.

Bird’s nest custody is a rather unusual custody agreement, and not one the California courts will typically mandate, but parents may request this type of agreement. Both parents must agree on this type of custody arrangement, so that is one benefit. The benefits and drawbacks of bird’s nest custody will depend on the family and the relationship between ex-spouses. For some families, this arrangement gives children a sense of comfort and stability since they don’t have to get used to living in two different homes.

Children who remain in the same household full time can remain in the same school district, attend the same church and community events, see friends and neighbors full time, and enjoy the same sports and activities without disruption. For some families, these factors are worth parents relocating their own lives part of the time. For others, more traditional custody arrangements may be more beneficial to all parties involved.

Things to Consider About Bird’s Nest Custody

The child’s best interests should be at the heart of any custody decision. If the courts believe that bird’s nest custody will hurt rather than help the child, they will not sign off on the agreement. This might be the case if parents will have a hard time sticking with the agreement, such as difficulty staying away from the home when he or she is not the scheduled parent to live there. In many case, this type of arrangement demands three different residences – one for each parent and the “nest” for the children. Not all families have the means to maintain three separate households.

It may also be more difficult for parents to move on with different relationships in this custody arrangement. Bringing a new spouse back and forth to the shared home may not be comfortable. Making exchanges can be awkward or tense if the parents don’t get along. There may also be disagreements about who is in charge of items such as home maintenance and paying the bills. Parents will also need to live close by to make this type of situation work. It is crucial to consider all the issues that may arise in a bird’s nest custody situation before selecting this option.