Virginia parents who are considering the practice of birdnesting after divorce might not want to practice the arrangement for more than a few months. Birdnesting involves children remaining in the shared home while the parents alternate staying with them there. Parents usually maintain a small place nearby that they take turns living in when they are not in the home. While this can help children adjust to a divorce, experts say that in general, it should not last more than three to six months.
One problem with allowing birdnesting to go on longer than this is that it can result in children starting to think their parents may reconcile. Another problem is that sharing homes can lead to conflict even if parents are on relatively amicable terms.
There are other things parents can do to help their children make the transition from living with both their parents to moving between households. They can try to avoid additional disruption such as having the child change schools. They can also work together to try to keep children’s routines the same and to make sure expectations and rules in each of their homes are similar. Children should be encouraged to keep family relationships strong and to talk honestly about the divorce. Parents should avoid behaving hostilely toward one another in front of the children.
Working out an agreement for child custody and visitation can be difficult for parents who are going through a divorce. For some parents, it may be tempting to try to hurt the other parent by blocking that parent’s access to the children, but this may hurt the children as well. In general, courts will only agree to prevent a parent from spending time with children if there is a reason to believe the child is unsafe, such as in cases of abuse or neglect.