In my previous articles I have discussed various options to assist separated parents to enable them to co-parent, the links to those articles are at the bottom of this one. In this article I am going to explain nesting arrangements and the pros and cons of them for both children and parents.
What is a nesting arrangement?
A nesting arrangement is an arrangement that enables the children of the relationship to remain living in the family home while the parents move in and out of it at different times to care for them.
Pros for children
- The children can remain in their home with their familiar surroundings.
- The children do not have two homes and need to move their possessions between the homes or have two of everything in their home.
- The children’s routine does not need to change.
- It enables the children to be settled. They can remain at their schools and see their friends as they have previously.
Cons for children
- It can be confusing for some children, especially if they are used to their parents being together and now they are living with them at different times, though their home hasn’t changed.
- It can sometimes unsettle children when the parents change over and they have to live under the new rules of that parent.
Pros for parents
- The parents work together and provide a unified front
- Both parents remain involved in their children’s lives and share their upbringing as they did when they were together.
- It provides a positive example to the children as the parents are treating each other amicably.
- There are financial benefits as there may only need to be one home (if parents can stay with friends and family when they are not with the children).
- It keeps the matter outside of the court arena.
Cons for parents
- Parents need to remain amicable and be able to communicate.
- It sometimes does not enable the parents to move on with their lives.
- It may limit the parent’s ability to make choices. For example, if one wanted to paint the house, the other would need to be consulted. If they are not able to agree, it may lead to arguments between them.
- There will need to be somewhere for the non-resident parent to go when it is not their time with the children. If there are no friends and family, another property may need to be rented or purchased. This would increase the financial burden.
- It may be difficult for parents to move in and out of the house, especially if they are not amicable. They would quickly need to step into the other parent’s life and take over as seamlessly as possible into the role of being a parent again.
- It needs a large amount of trust between the parties. If ground rules are not set it will invariably go wrong.
- They are not legally binding.
For nesting arrangements to work, parents need to be able to communicate and trust each other. I always suggest that if a separated couple are considering a nesting arrangement, they set some ground rules and record it in an agreement which may include:
- New partners – can they come into the property/not?
- Separate rooms – if not appropriate – who changes the bedding?
- Who pays the bills/mortgage/rent on the property?
- Food – can you use what is in the cupboards or do you have to bring your food with you?
- Bins – should the bins be changed before changing care so you cannot see what is in there and what the other person has been eating/buying?
- Standard of cleanliness that needs to be maintained within the property and how the property is to be left.
- Where will the other party live when they are not in the property? If another property needs to be purchased or rented, should the same ground rules apply for that property as well.
Nesting arrangements do work for some families, but are not for all. If a nesting arrangement is something that you would like to consider, it is always advisable that advice is obtained early and an agreement drawn up so that there can be no confusion for the parents in the expectations of their ‘nesting’.
I have written other articles which discuss the options available for separated parents to enable them to co-parent: