Parents in Virginia who are going through a divorce may want to make joint custody work, so that they can both play a meaningful role in the day-to-day upbringing of their child. However, joint custody does not always mean that the child must be shuffled from one house to another every week. In one unique child custody arrangement known as “birdnesting,” the child stays put in the family home, and it is the parents who take turns living there with the child and residing in a separate apartment when it is not their time to have custody of the child.
Some parents believe birdnesting provides the child with the stability the child needs following a major life upheaval, such as a divorce. When the child stays in the family home, the child can stay in the same neighborhood, go to the same school they had while their parents were married and they do not need to go through the stress that child custody exchanges can sometimes cause. However, parents considering birdnesting should understand that, in some ways, it is more complex than traditional child custody arrangements.
First, parents will need to lay out the groundwork for how they will take care of chores when it is their turn to live in the family home. They will need to decide how they will handle the expenses of home ownership, such as paying the mortgage, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. They will also need to be able to afford a separate apartment to live in when it is not their turn in the family home.
Ultimately, while birdnesting can benefit the child post-divorce, it entails a certain amount of cooperation between the parents, as well as costs not necessarily present in traditional child custody arrangements. Parents who are considering their options for joint custody may want to consider the possibility of birdnesting, but only if they are able to co-parent effectively and afford the additional costs birdnesting brings.