Amelia Fernley, Family Solicitor at Sinclair Law says, “Since the popular BBC drama ‘The Split’ hit our screens, the subject of nesting arrangements for separated families has become a point of discussion.”
What is a nesting arrangement?
For parties who have recently separated or divorced with children, the question may arise as to how best to co-parent the children of the family. A parental separation is a significant incident in a child’s life and so many parents wish to make the transition from parents to co-parents as smooth as possible.
A nesting arrangement is a co-parenting method where the children remain in the family home. Rather than the children moving to each parent’s respective house for contact, the parents rotate and ‘take turns’ in occupying the family home.
The name of this arrangement is based on the notion of birds nesting- where one bird leaves the nest and the other remains with the offspring and the parents take it in turns to rotate.
Is a nesting arrangement a good idea?
It is important to note that co-parenting is a personal matter for each set of parents and there is no right or wrong answer. It is about finding an arrangement that works and that most importantly is in the best interests of the children.
There is no ‘perfect’ arrangement and much will depend on the particular circumstances of the family and the children.
Nesting arrangements are most typically adopted as a temporary, short-term solution in the interim period after a couple immediately separate. It is not an arrangement that is typically adopted as a permanent solution.
There are pros and cons of nesting arrangements in practice.
Pros of nesting arrangements
A nesting arrangement can alleviate some of the uncertainty and stress children may experience when parents first separate. They remain settled in the family home which of course has logistical benefits to the children and the parents. It may be that the family home is situated in close proximity to the children’s school which makes pick up and drop offs easier for the parents.
For parents who have recently separated, they may be housed in temporary accommodation which is not suitable for facilitating contact with the children. The nesting arrangement ensures that both parents have opportunity to spend time with the children in a familiar environment.
There is less disruption to the children, the family home remains the central place for the children to stay and it is the parents who organise their schedules without the need to move the children between them regularly.
This style of arrangement may assist children in understanding what is happening, particular younger children, in that the transition of parents separating is a more gradual process.
Separated parents may feel that this arrangement is beneficial to communication which assists in building a healthy co-parenting relationship.
Cons of nesting arrangements
Such an arrangement requires cooperation and communication between the parents. After a recent separation, this is something that parents may find difficult and therefore there is a risk that parents could find themselves in conflict with one another.
The nesting arrangement requires multiple spaces or parents sacrificing their own space. Most families would not have the financial means to run multiple homes and therefore this may be an expensive way to spend time with the children.
Even with nesting arrangements, parents would still need to determine a shared-care arrangement and therefore there could be an argument to suggest that parents are delaying the inevitable and final arrangements should be put in place for the children, with respective homes for both parents which are suitable for contact with the children.
As both parents would be essentially spending part of their time living at the family home, there may be blurred lines as to what the other parent believes is acceptable. For example, whether the parents agree to respective new partners being brought to the family home.
For parents who have separated and there is contention, there is a risk that the rotation and contact with the other parent could give rise to further incidents. It would be unhealthy for a child to pick up on such an atmosphere and the risk of this could potentially be higher with both parents rotating time at the same property.
It is important for separating families to explore their options at the earliest opportunity as to how best they can co-parent their children in the future. This is something our specialist family law team can assist with. Contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation.
Article by Amelia Fernley, Family Law Solicitor at Sinclair Law Solicitors