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When is “bird nesting” a good option?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2022 | Child Custody & Parenting Time |

Divorce creates huge changes in finances, life goals and family life. For the children, the disruptions to schedules, parental support and their future lives are profoundly destabilizing, and often lead to insecurity that manifests in ways that are detrimental to their emotional development.

In many situations, it can be beneficial to change as little as possible. Parents in Indiana and elsewhere who wish to explore their options for coparenting may want to take a closer look at so-called bird nesting. This option is not ideal in all situations, especially if the parents already have an acrimonious relationship, or if there is evidence of domestic violence. But for some it is a viable, although unorthodox, solution to coparenting challenges.

What is bird nesting?

In the arrangement of bird nesting, it is the children who remain in the home while the parents take turns living with them. The home environment creates stability and maintains many of the rituals of daily life the children have grown up with, while also keeping them connected to their community, schools and friends.

While one parent is living in the home, the other parent stays with family or friends, in an apartment or condo that the couple shares while they trade off parenting time. If the parents get along, this is a viable option that has many pragmatic and psychological benefits, such as:

  • Giving children the stability they to handle such a big life change
  • Allowing the parents to keep their roles and connections to the children
  • Helping the parents transition to single life
  • Delaying tough decisions such as property division and selling the family home

Bird nesting is not for everyone, however, and can create more problems than it resolves. If one spouse wants a clean break, or if the arrangement sparks more altercations, it won’t be sustainable. It also may be expensive to maintain two residences, and boundary issues may arise in shared spaces.

What custody laws guide Indiana courts?

In Indiana, the law treats both parents equally, and starts with an assumption of joint legal custody. The courts encourage the parents to create their own custodial and visitation schedule, but where this is not possible, the judge will make decisions on custody and parenting time based on factors that are in the best interest of the child.

Bird nesting may not work in all situations, but where there is cooperation and mutual respect, this option provides stability to the parents while allowing them to focus on the needs of their children.