What is ‘Bird Nesting’ And Is It Right For Your Family?
In recent years, the concept of ‘bird nesting’ has become more and more common. Although often put in place with the best of intentions, it can actually cause more problems than it solves.
What is ‘bird nesting’?
‘Bird nesting’ is an arrangement whereby a separated couple both continue to occupy the former matrimonial home on a part time basis. Put simply, the children continue to live in the family home and the parents alternate. For example, the father may live there with the children from Sunday to Wednesday. On a Wednesday morning the father moves out and the mother moves back in in order to live with the children until a Sunday when the adults switch over again.
Why do it and does it work?
The reasons for having such an arrangement can vary. Very often the idea comes from an idea of creating stability for the children. They remain in the home that they know and are familiar with and the disruption to them is seen to be reduced. The reality is however that bird nesting can be quite a difficult concept for the children to deal with emotionally. Bird nesting does not mean that things stay the same for the children. Living with one parent at a time is still quite a significant change for them. It can be really confusing for the children to see their parents come and go and they will often worry about the parent who is not there.
Seeing the other parent settled in their own accommodation, even if this is temporary accommodation, can help children to accept that their parents are now separated. It can help significantly with their emotional adjustment and being able to see where the other parent is living can help to reassure them that that parent is ok.
The other reason that separated couples consider bird nesting is for financial reasons. Dividing one household into two comes at a cost, financially as well as emotionally. The wages that previously supported the mortgage, utilities and living expenses on one property very often will not extend to paying for another property, particularly in today’s cost of living crisis.
Multiple things to consider…
The reality is that there will need to be two separate households at some point and bird nesting can often only lead to delaying the inevitable. During the time that bird nesting takes place, the conflict between the parties can build, making it even harder to try and reach an amicable agreement about the finances when the time comes.
Leaving the family home and the children for days at a time on a regular basis is not without an emotional cost. Going from the hustle and bustle of the family home and the children to sole accommodation can be really difficult. Doing that every week or every fortnight can be draining.
It is very difficult to achieve privacy with bird nesting. When one party is not in the family home then the other party has unlimited access to the property, and potentially the contents and documentation within. This is the same of the alternative accommodation if this is also to be shared.
Every separation is different and for some couples bird nesting can work, but it is important that you go into such an arrangement having carefully considered the implications of such an arrangement as well as all of the viable alternatives. This is where getting some advice from a family lawyer can help.