Often when parents separate it can be extremely difficult and challenging deciding what the appropriate care arrangements should be. There is no right or wrong answer and often the arrangements that work for one family don’t necessarily work for another.
What is the bird nest approach?
The birds nest approach or nesting arrangement is a shared care arrangement that sees the children staying in the family home after separation with the parents moving around the children and we have seen public awareness of this type of arrangement being heightened by TV programmes such as ‘The Split’ where one family put such an arrangement in place. Additionally, with the current economic uncertainty affecting families all over the country, increasing Mortgage and utility payments may mean that following separation maintaining two separate households just isn’t an affordable option. Could nesting be the answer?
It goes without saying that it can only work when parents are willing and able to cooperate and have a fairly amicable relationship. In my experience, high conflict situations would make this arrangement unworkable. Such arrangements also need a lot of trust between the parents and the establishment of ground rules from the outset is important in terms of forming new relationships to managing household finances.
As a short term solution one of the benefits is that it provides the children with a stable and consistent base that is similar to how they lived prior to their parent’s separation. It also allows the children to remain at the same school and continue to maintain their friendship groups.
On the other hand it can over extend the time in which it is helpful for children to be able to understand and appreciate the new family dynamic they are living in and give false promise to them as to the reality of their parents’ separation. This approach also requires the parents to continue a financial relationship and continue to contribute to the family home and its costs which doesn’t allow for the preferred ‘clean break’.
It might well be an appropriate short term solution and some might argue that the costs would still be unaffordable but nesting could mean that while each parent will need another property to live in when they are not with the children, such a property would not need to be of a comparable size or cost as the family home which might make this a more reasonable option.
If you do wish to enter into such an arrangement it is advisable to record the agreed terms in writing as a point of reference to follow and early advice is recommended. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact a member of our Family Law Team who would be happy to discuss your specific circumstances with you.
Please contact Sarah Feeney, Associate email SFeeney@gilsongray.co.uk or telephone +44 (0)141 530 2034