The divorced mother and father share custody. But instead of the child moving from home to home, the child stays in the same home and the parents move in and out.
The Telegraph reports that the arrangement probably originated in a Virginia courtroom in 2000. It's spread elsewhere as some split families find it the best way to keep children's lives stable. Attorney Margaret Hatwood in London explains the advantages:
‘This is something the court always tries to achieve, but it’s not always possible. The big benefit of bird’s nesting is that the child’s needs come first. It provides them with some stability. We know that children find it difficult to move from one property to another when parents divorce and they get stressed about things like leaving homework at one house, or not having the appropriate PE kit.
With bird’s nesting, parents do the moving and have to experience the inconvenience instead.’ There are no statistics available to indicate how many UK families have adopted this child-centred approach, as parents agree on it out of court, but Hatwood knows of several families with bird’s nest custody arrangements and predicts it could be on the rise, as more divorced couples move away from ‘traditional’ set-ups.
The set up varies from family to family:
Bird’s nesting looks different in every household. Parents who live near each other, and have enough funds, can opt for a three-home system - where the children live in the main family property and both parents have separate homes of their own. They can then move in and out of the shared home on weekends or alternate weeks.
But it can also provide a cheaper solution for parents struggling to maintain their former lifestyle after a divorce. In these circumstances, the children would live in a family home with one parent while the other could live in a smaller flat. It would negate the need for children to have two bedrooms – with two sets of toys, furniture and so on.