The prototypical divorce of yesteryear in the United States is far removed from legions of more creative and tailored outcomes that are being realized these days.
Remember those family-based television sitcoms of decades past? If they addressed divorce at all, they typically did so from the perspective of mom and the kids remaining in the family home and dad popping in occasionally from elsewhere to reconnect. The mother almost always had sole custody over the kids, with the father having visitation rights that often approximated an every-other-Saturday model.
Things are now far different, of course. Shared parental custody is a commonplace, including in Connecticut. Sometimes it is dad who lives with the kids. Legions of mothers work outside the home.
And there is so-called birdnesting.
Nesting is decidedly a modern-day divorce topic/arrangement that has grown in popularity commensurate with growing study efforts focused centrally on children’s best interests when families split up.
The concept is simply, and works like this: The children remain in the same home they have always known, while divorced parents take turns being with them. In some extreme cases, a mom and dad will have separate residences, making nesting a three-property proposition. More commonly, a divorced couple will rotate in and out of a shared apartment.
Can that work?
Obviously, not over a long term. Commentators ranging from mental health specialists to child psychologists say that successful instances of birdnesting are almost exclusively confined to short-term situations.
In short, nesting might be something to try for a few transitional months following divorce. It can help ensure that children don’t suffer material dislocations owing to new schools, disbanded friendships, loss of connection to a known home environment and so forth at a most vulnerable time.
Eventually, though, nesting’s utility expires. For one thing, the process is simply too expensive for most divorcing couples. For another, the arrangement requires an optimal level of cooperation and amicability between parents who, after all, just recently divorced. And, as one child specialist notes, trying to perpetually maintain a birdnesting outcome “risks giving children an inaccurate message” of how things will unfold in the future.
The bottom line with nesting seems to be that, while it can be a positive thing, it is generally a viable outcome only over a short term and for a very small percentage of divorced couples.