“Birdnesting”- What is that?

“Birdnesting”- What is that?


By Robert B. Pollack, Esq., principal attorney at The Pollack Law Firm, P.C. : Our firm is focused solely on Nassau and Suffolk County divorce, separation and all other issues of matrimonial law, family law and mediation—

“Birdnesting”  is a custodial arrangement between divorcing or separating parents where the marital home remains as the home for the children and the divorcing or separating parents rotate living there with their children in a pattern negotiated and agreed to by the parents. So, rather than the children shifting back and forth between the two residences of their parents, post divorce or separation, the children remain in their customary home and it is then their parents are the ones living in the marital home on a rotating basis. The idea is to give the children stability so that there is less disruption to the children’s lives and routine that they are accustomed to.

In order for Birdnesting to work, the parents must be able to get along. The concept behind parents’ willingness to enter into a Birdnesting parenting time arrangement is their desire to put the children’s best interest before their own.

What often occurs in Birdnesting arrangements is that one parent lives in the marital residence with the children one week and on Sunday evening, the other parent moves in and the first parent leaves so that the second parent may reside at the marital residence with the children the following week.  Then, the next Sunday, the rotation continues.  One parent in…and one parent out…and this cycle continues for an agreed amount of time or maybe even, until the youngest child leaves for college for example.  Meanwhile, the children are living in their customary home.

But what happens to the parent who is not living with the children that week?  Often, that parent may have made arrangements with his or her parents to reside in their parents’ home during their “off” week with the children.  Sometimes, each parent rents an apartment near the marital residence and lives in that apartment in his or her “off” week with the children. Sometimes I have seen it where the divorced or separated parents actually rent an apartment together and rotate in and out of this new residence. Basically, the parents are free to come  up with anything that they think will work for them but again, the basic concept of a Birdnesting arrangement is that the children stay… and the parents leave.

During the period of Birdnesting, it is generally agreed that the parents will share the costs of maintaining the marital residence in some manner; 50/50 or otherwise, as the parents must support and maintain the marital residence household for the children’s benefit.  So, although in a divorce or separation one of the major issues is the ultimate disposition of the marital residence, when a Birdnesting parenting time agreement is made, generally, any formal disposition of the marital residence, meaning, is it to be sold?… or, will one parent buy out the other’s share of the equity in the house?… all gets put on hold, though the ultimate plan concerning what happens to the house after the Birdnesting period ends must be stated and agreed to by the parents as part of their divorce settlement agreement or separation agreement.

Psychologists, attorneys and the Courts differ on whether Birdnesting is really in the children’s best interests or not.  Sometimes the economics of Birdnesting is favorable to divorcing or separating parties and this may be their motivation in agreeing to such an arrangement.

Like anything else when it comes to parenting time agreements between divorcing or separating parents, there are advantages and disadvantages to Birdnesting, not only as to the impact on the children psychologically and socially, but to the parents, economically, psychologically and socially as well.  But in the era of “conscious uncoupling”, it may be something parents may want to consider.

To better understand the complex and critical matter of child custody options between parents in Nassau and Suffolk County and how your particular facts and circumstances could impact this important issue, you are invited to contact Robert B. Pollack, Esq., principal attorney of The Pollack Law Firm, P.C.

The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., serving clients in Nassau and Suffolk County, is always available to assist and represent parties in divorce and all other matrimonial and family law matters. Please call today to schedule a free consultation: (516) 938-3330.

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to provide only general information for entertainment purposes and should never be relied upon as legal advice.  One should seek the assistance of experienced matrimonial counsel to assist in explaining the law, options and making important decisions in any divorce, matrimonial or any family law matter.  By reading this article, no attorney / client relationship arises in any manner whatsoever.

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