When parents in California divorce, they have more than their own emotional well-being to consider. They must guide their children through the transition, and birdnesting has emerged as a strategy that eases children into the reality that their parents will be caring for them separately. The concept involves keeping the children in the marital family home. The parents typically split their time between the children’s home and an apartment shared with the ex-spouse. The parents essentially live separately as they trade spots on a rotating schedule.

One family attorney said that the approach could offer benefits in the short term. Children experience little environmental disruption as they become used to the fact that their parents have divorced. Only people undergoing an amicable divorce have a chance at succeeding with this approach because it requires parental cooperation and shared living quarters. The attorney emphasized that parents should only view birdnesting as a temporary strategy before the parents establish two truly separate households.

A family therapist agreed that birdnesting for no more than three months could benefit children. The transition gives them a chance to recover from the shock of the divorce. Prolonged birdnesting, however, could make children think that their parents are working toward reconciliation, which would be emotionally harmful to children.

A parent pursuing a divorce will need to negotiate a mutually acceptable custody arrangement with the former spouse. The representation of an attorney may inform a person about strategies that people take to establish child custody and visitation schedules. An attorney might suggest compromises that help the parents overcome disputes and focus on the best interests of the children because this is the standard a court will apply when approving a custody and co-parenting plan.