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The shared custody agreement involves one parent or legal guardian leaving the home when another arrives, but the children staying put. The concept gets its name from the parenting habits of birds, who keep their chicks safe in a nest and fly in and out alternately to feed and care for them.

Ultimately it is designed to help avoid causing disruption to children’s lives when parents or legal guardian’s separate or divorce.

Bird’s nest custody is a fairly uncommon custody arrangement. As such, it is not typically mandated by a family court, unless the parents request it to be.

That said, its popularity is on the rise, especially amongst middle-class families. Research by the Co-op found that in 2016, 11% of Britain’s separated or divorced adults had chosen not to follow ‘traditional’ child custody arrangements and had, instead, allowed their children to remain in the family home with the parents moving in and out.

There are several pros and cons to this type of custody arrangement.

Pros of bird’s nest custody

The biggest argument in favour of the arrangement is that a child can continue to feel grounded and isn’t put through any living disruption by moving from home to home when their parents or legal guardians separate.

By remaining in the family home, a child can feel more stable compared to custody arrangements that means they have to move from one home to another.

Communication between parents can also become easier in this shared home arrangement, as the likes of notes can be left out, or parents can talk to one another during custody exchanges.
Without having to move into a new home, children can resume their normal activities, such as attending the same school, playing sports for the same team and visiting their friends – again maintaining a youngster’s sense of stability during a divorce or separation.  

Cons of bird’s nest custody

The biggest disadvantage to this type of living arrangement is that it creates disruption to the lives of parents going through what is typically a stressful time. It means that both parents have to find another place to live, which can bring greater levels of disruption and more financial burden.
Another potential issue is that for parents that no longer get along with each other, custody exchanges can be awkward and create tension.

Bird’s nest custody can be an effective solution to custody challenges in terms of providing children with stability and less disruption. It can, however, bring create additional logistical and financial upheaval for parents going through a divorce or separation.

As with a lot of aspects related to divorce and separation, it can be a good idea to get legal advice about custody arrangements. For advice on custody matters during divorce, then get in touch with Liverpool divorce solicitor Tracey Miller for practical, straightforward guidance on the next steps to take.