What is meant by a “birdnesting” arrangement for children?

You may have heard of parents who have a “birdnesting” arrangements when they separate. But what is this and how does it work?

“Nesting plans” or “birdnesting” is based on the concept of children staying put in their family home all of the time and parents rotating in and out of it rather than the children moving between two properties which can often happen in a traditional separation arrangement. The parents then need to rent a small apartment or other additional space for the two of them to share(or have access to somewhere else to stay) when it is not their time with the children. The concept gets its name from birds, who keep their hatchlings safe in a nest and alternately fly in and out to care for them.  

This type of arrangement is often selected in the hope of providing a secure stable base for the children, offering them the benefit of having both parents playing an active role in their lives, but there are many things to think about if you are considering this option, including:-

·      Where will each parent live when they are not at the family home.  Will this be a separate space or somewhere that is also shared?

·      How will the arrangements work out financially? Will costs be saved?

·      How will this arrangement work if either parent has a new partner?

·      How will costs, tasks, chores and costs of the family home be dealt with?

·      How will the parents communicate about the children’s arrangements and needs?

·      How long will this arrangement carry on for and what might happen when one wants it to end?

Having an amicable, civil relationship and good communication is likely to be a pivotal part of any birdnesting arrangements.

The popularity of these kind of arrangements has grown following endorsement from separating celebrities and the arrangements being shown in TV dramas.  The concept would aim to protect the mental health impact of separation on children and give the parents time to think about longer term plans (or buy/sell properties as times when the property market may be more helpful to them!) without having to rush into any decisions and giving them some breathing space to consider options.

However, while it might sound like a positive option for co-parenting, there are often issues with birdnesting as a long-term option and have been suggestions that children can find the birdnesting experience confusing and stalling adults ability to get over the break-up. Birdnesting does not create and clean break and the interim costs and longer term financial issues will still need to be considered.

Should a birdnesting arrangement be something appropriate, the parents would still be assisted by a agreeing a parenting plan and financial agreement to manage the short term and longer term financial issues.


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