Couples Increasingly Open To “Birdnesting” Post-Divorce, But Is It Always A Good Idea?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”


A recent article discussed the trend among some couples, celebrity and otherwise, to consider new approaches to co-parenting post-divorce. One such trend, known as “birdnesting”, has been around for years, but appears to be enjoying particular popularity at the moment. Gwyneth Paltrow and her ex-husband Chris Martin do a version of birdnesting, while Anne Dudek, from “Mad Men”, and her ex publicly announced that they would pursue a birdnesting arrangement once their split is final.


Eggs in a nest Charlotte Divorce Lawyer Mecklenburg Family Law AttorneyThough birdnesting has its supporters, the arrangement can be complicated and may not work well for all (or even many) families. To learn more, keep reading.


What is “birdnesting”?


First things first, you may still be scratching your head about what birdnesting even is. Birdnesting refers to a custody arrangement whereby the parents, rather than the children, are uprooted. In most birdnesting arrangements, the children remain in the family home and the parents rotate in and out based on custody schedules. The point of birdnesting is to spare the kids from the pain of leaving home and instead place the inconvenience on the parents, hopefully minimizing (at least from the kids’ perspective) the disruption caused by divorce.


Birdnesting can take several different forms, depending on the wishes of the couple. One option is to continue jointly owning and operating the marital home, which is where the children will reside full-time, while each parent secures his or her own separate housing. Under this approach, one parent lives at home with the kids during his or her custody time and the other is away. The parents then rotate in and out, while the kids remain in place.


The problem with the above approach is that it can get quite expensive maintaining three homes. Another idea for those interested in birdnesting for whom money is not unlimited is to keep the marital home and then get an additional apartment that both parents share (though not at the same time). Under such an approach, the parent who isn’t with the kids is living in the other shared residence which helps keep costs down.


When might birdnesting be a good idea?


Birdnesting can work, and work well, but only if both parents are committed to making it work. Both parties need to get along well, if not exceptionally well, given the close proximity they will be in post-divorce. If you fight frequently, you will likely need more space than birdnesting allows for. Additionally, for birdnesting to be a good idea you almost always need to have the financial ability to maintain multiple residences. If things are already tight, this may not be an idea worth considering. Finally, birdnesting can work well when everyone is single. As new relationships begin and become more serious, it can make the birdnesting arrangement much more cumbersome, though not necessarily impossible. For instance, where will the new boyfriend or girlfriend stay? What if one of the parties remarries? These are all questions to consider before agreeing to such an unconventional approach.


If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.


About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAWMatthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A certified Family-Law Specialist, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state and administrative courts in North Carolina, before the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, and before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.






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