Article by

Sophia Khan

Birdnesting – A new approach to co-parenting

Birdnesting has become an increasingly popular way to co-parent following separation. It involves the children remaining in one home (usually the marital family home) and the separated parents taking it in turns living with the children in that home.


  • The children get to remain in the family home. This provides them with some stability during an upsetting transition. This minimises disruption for the children and they have the security of knowing they will be sleeping in their own bed each night.
  • The children are saved from having to travel between each parents home. This is especially beneficial in cases where parents move a significant distance away.
  • The children don’t have to pack a bag each time they leave one parent to go to another. This also prevents the stressful situation of things being forgotten such as homework, P.E kit, and favourite teddy.
  • Birdnesting ensures the children will remain in their school and maintain the same friendships. This all adds to the children’s security and ability to deal with their parent’s separation.
  • There are also financial benefits. Rather than having to fund two homes to facilitate the children, only one is required. There is no longer the need for two lots of bedroom furniture, clothes, toys etc.


  • The Financial lines are blurred. Whilst most separated/divorced couples benefit from a clean break financially, this approach requires the parents to continue a financial relationship and continue to contribute to the family home and its costs.
  • The parent’s privacy will clearly be affected. How comfortable would each parent be, knowing the other is in the house with their belongings etc.
  • This approach could be confusing to the children. As there is not a clear separation and the parents are not completely independent from each other it could cause the children to hold onto dreams of their parents reuniting. It could also make it much harder for the children in the future.
  • Whilst the parents are away from the children they are living a separate life that the children are not part of and have not experienced.
  • The most obvious con to this approach is what happens when a parent starts a new relationship.

This concept has been around for a while in the U.S, and is becoming more and more popular here in the U.K. This is not something that the courts can order against unwilling participants, but more of a concept that parents are coming up with themselves or with the help of a mediator.

Birdnesting is believed to be a more child centred approach to co-parenting with the emphasis being on the children maintaining the stability of the family home, whilst the parents take on the burden of travelling to and fro between homes’.

The benefits in the short term are clear. Such an approach would provide a smoother transition to their new way of life as children of divorced parents, but is it a viable long term plan?

What is clear is that it requires a significant amount of sacrifice and compromise. What is essential is that the parents are very clear at the outset as to the rules.  Agreements would need to be made and adhered to, including every last detail. It would need to be set out who pays for what, who is responsible for household jobs and what are the rules in terms parenting.

The bird nesting approach can only really be in the children’s best interests if the parents can truly co-parent. To do this the parents need to have respect for each other and be willing to communicate.