bird nesting arrangement

For those of you who were following the recent ITV documentary, ‘Our House’, you may have noticed that it included a ‘bird nesting arrangement’. Here is what that means and the pros and cons of having such an arrangement.

The thrilling ITV documentary, ‘Our House’, is both set in the past (when the couple are separating) and the present (when the wife arrives to find that another family are moving into her house). In the documentary, the family have set up, agreed and been using a bird nesting arrangement.

What is a bird nesting arrangement?

A ‘bird nesting’ or ‘nesting’ agreement is basically an agreement which enables the children of the relationship to remain living in their home with the parents ‘nesting’ – moving in and out of the property at separate times to care for them.

Pros of a bird nesting arrangement

  • It provides for the children to be able to remain settled in their family home in familiar surroundings, providing them with stability and consistency as they will not need to move between parents’ homes and can remain living in one home;
  • It provides the opportunity for both parents to work together, for there to be good communication between the parents which in turn will show the children that their parents are providing a unified front;
  • It enables both parents to remain fully involved in their children’s lives and to share their upbringing together; and
  • It enables the children to remain at their schools and for both parents to be involved with their schooling.

Cons of a bird nesting arrangement

  • The arrangement can sometimes be confusing for children and they can be unsettled by it. They may not understand why their parents are living in the property at different times and inevitably looking after them in different ways;
  • The absent parent will need another property to live in when they are not with the children or find somewhere else to stay, which could mean that they are paying for and running two or three homes;
  • The arrangement requires a large amount of trust between the parties, which makes it important for ground rules to be set. For example:
    • What happens if either parent meets someone else?
    • Can they bring the new partner to the family home/other property?
    • Who provides for food/bills when they are in the family home?
  • It is unlikely to be a long term arrangement as at some point the parents are likely to want to move on with their lives, especially if they meet someone new as happened in ‘Our House’.

Does a bird nesting arrangement work?

In some cases, a nesting arrangement works really well, in others not so well. Every case is different and we always suggest that independent advice is sought before entering into such agreement to find out if it is likely to work for you and more importantly, benefit your children.

If you do wish to enter into a nesting arrangement, writing the agreed terms in a document which both parties can refer to and follow is important to enable both parties to know what they can and can’t do whilst in either property.

If you require any advice or assistance in relation to bird nesting arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our Children team can provide specialist advice on whether such an agreement will work for you and more importantly for your children.