Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally charged process, particularly when children are involved. Child arrangements often involve children shuttling between two separate homes. However, an alternative approach known as "nesting" has gained popularity in recent years. Nesting, also referred to as "bird nesting," allows children to remain in the family home while the parents take turns living there. In this article, we will clarify what nesting is, its benefits, challenges, and the legal considerations for parents who believe that this arrangement could benefit their children and themselves.
What Is Nesting?
Nesting is a co-parenting arrangement where the parents take turns living in the family home while the children reside there full-time. The non-residential parent would find a separate living arrangement during their ‘off-duty’ period. This approach aims to provide stability and minimise disruption to the children's lives during and after the divorce.
What Are The Advantages Of Nesting?
- Nesting allows children to maintain a familiar and stable living environment, reducing the emotional turmoil often associated with divorce.
- Cooperative co-parenting relationship are encouraged as both parents actively share responsibility for the family home and children.
- Nesting provides a gradual transition for children, allowing them time to adjust to the changes associated with divorce.
- By sharing one residence, nesting can help parents save on housing expenses and potentially maintain the family home.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Nesting?
- Maintaining multiple residences can present financial difficulties for both parents, particularly if additional rental costs are involved.
- Living in close quarters with a former spouse can be hard. Honest communication and respect for each other's space is vital to make the arrangement work.
- Nesting can prolong the emotional healing process for parents who may find it difficult to move on while still sharing a living arrangement with their ex-spouse.
- Nesting requires both parents to adhere to a shared schedule, potentially limiting their ability to move forward with future plans.
Can The Court Set Aside A Nesting Arrangement?
In A (Children: Nesting Arrangement), Re, the Court of Appeal ruled that a judge making an interim Child Arrangement Order pending a final hearing had not been biased or partial in ending a "nesting" arrangement under which three children had remained living in the former family home for three years while the mother and father moved in and out depending on when it was their turn to provide care. Even though the children wanted the arrangement to continue, the judge concluded that it was no longer in their best interests, and it gave them false hope that their parents were getting back together. In addition, the Family Court Judge considered that the nesting arrangement was depriving the children of spending quality time with the mother in her new home and prevented her from being the best mother she could be.
“In my experience, nesting arrangements work well and can be of benefit to all when the parents are in accord. I also have experience of such arrangements when the parents continue to be in conflict and where the children remain exposed to the same. I am not aware of such arrangements, where parental conflict and discord remain, that remain in place or afford good outcomes for the children.
I am concerned that maintenance of the current arrangements will further harm the quality of the children's relationship with their mother. Any transition to new child arrangements will present challenges but, in my opinion, the difficulties associated with the transition will be less significant than the ongoing harm experienced by the children if there are no changes to the current arrangements."
How Can Couples Make A Nesting Arrangement Work?
To ensure nesting arrangements work and protect and promote the welfare of the child, the following must be considered:
- Effective communication between parents is crucial for successful nesting. Clear guidelines and expectations should be established, including decision-making processes and financial responsibilities.
- Nesting arrangements should be formalised in a Child Arrangement Order that sets out various aspects such as financial contributions, household maintenance, and parenting responsibilities.
- Keep in mind that nesting may not be a sustainable long-term solution. Parents should assess their long-term goals, individual needs, and what will happen if one or both parents meet someone else.
- Establishing a support network of family, friends, or counsellors can provide emotional and practical assistance if nesting is considered a viable option.
Nesting offers a unique and child focused approach to post-separation co-parenting. While it presents numerous benefits such as stability for children and cooperative parenting, it also comes with financial and emotional challenges. Before considering nesting, parents should carefully look at their circumstances, communicate well, and seek legal guidance to ensure that the arrangement aligns with their long-term goals. Ultimately, the success of nesting depends on the parents' ability to work together and prioritise their children's well-being during the divorce process and beyond.
Pearce Legal has a dedicated family law team who can advise and represent you on divorce, financial settlements, and arrangements for children. To make an appointment, please contact us on 0121 270 2700 or enquire through our contact form.
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