When it comes to divorce, parents want to do everything they can to make things easier for their kids. After all, their kids didn’t ask for the divorce, so why should they have to bear the burden?
Ann Gold Buscho is a licensed clinical psychologist with a unique solution to making divorce easier for kids that she’s termed “birdnesting”. With birdnesting, a divorced couple keeps the marital home, with the children remaining in the home and the parents rotating out. Ann joins Mandy on the podcast this week to discuss how and why birdnesting works.
In this episode
What are the situations when bird nesting is a no-go?
When one or both parents have untreated mental illness or addiction.
When one parent doesn’t want to be involved with their children.
When parents cannot come to any sort of agreement or even negotiate effectively.
When there have been instances of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or sexual abuse.
What are the benefits of birdnesting?
Keeps the kids in a stable, secure place
Asking children to go back and forth between two homes puts the burden of the divorce on the children
This way, the children’s lives are less disruptive and they can focus on all of the other changes that happen when their parents are divorcing.
Why would parents choose to do this? Besides for making divorce much easier on the children, birdnesting helps with:
Financial reasons – it may make more sense in the short term for parents to keep the home they own and find a solution for the second home, such as:
Renting a single apartment to share (this can be complicated)
Staying with friends or family
Finding alternative solutions to work in the short term
COVID-19 forced many families into nesting, involuntarily.
How does birdnesting work? The key this arrangement is to create very clear agreements that cover everything that might happen:
Predict things that can go wrong
Work out a clear budget
Agreements about the condition of the home
Agreements regarding dating and new relationships are necessary because this can cause a lot of tension.
There needs to be an agreement about how far in advance one parent needs to let the other know they are leaving the nest.
How are these agreements created?
Ann’s book includes written templates for these agreements. They touch on the schedule, how the transitions happen, what happens in an emergency, who takes care of food and house maintenance, what happens with dating.
Not having the agreements could spell the end of nesting but it doesn’t have to.
No agreement can ever cover everything that could come up.
Agreements should be reviewed a few times a year to make sure everything is in sync as circumstances change and kids grow. It should be a living document.
How to end the nesting period?
Choose a good time – Whenever the children are off from school, such as winter break or summer vacation is a good choice because it gives them time to adjust before going back to their routine.
What happens to the home when nesting is done – In traditional divorce settlements done in court, it’s unlikely that the court will be flexible about when the home can be sold. Ann says that most of her clients are involved in mediation or collaborative divorce so the settlement regarding the sale of the home can be worked into that.
Ann Gold Buscho, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in family issues and issues related to divorce, parenting, parenting planning, and co-parenting counseling. She has professional and personal experience in nesting, co-parenting, stepparenting, and single-parenting issues. She works closely with family law professionals to help clients resolve their divorce privately and respectfully. She presents widely at state and national conferences for lawyers, mental health and financial experts on Collaborative Divorce, forgiveness practices, nesting during divorce, and consensual dispute resolution. She co-founded a treatment program for emergency responders with PTSD where she volunteers regularly. Her husband is a retired police officer and psychologist. When not at work, she enjoys her children, grandchildren, hiking, and writing. The Parent’s Guide to Birdnesting is the first (and only) book on the topic of nesting during separation and divorce.
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