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The benefits of nesting when co-parenting a child


For parties with children who have recently separated, the question may arise as to how best to co-parent. A separation is a significant event in a child’s life and many wish to make the transition to co-parenting as smooth as possible.

Rebecca Patience, senior associate solicitor, and Grace McGarvey, apprentice solicitor, from our family law team discuss the benefits of “nesting arrangements” as well as the legal considerations.

What is nesting?

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 care for their young.

What are the benefits of a nesting arrangement?

A nesting arrangement can alleviate some of the uncertainty and stress children may experience when parents first separate.

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 also less disruption to the children, as the family home remains the central place for the children to stay.

This style of arrangement may assist children in understanding what is happening and make the transition of parents separating a more gradual process.

Separated parents may feel that this arrangement is beneficial to communication which assists in building a healthy co-parenting relationship.

Are there any potential downsides to a nesting arrangement?

Such an arrangement requires cooperation and communication between the parents. After a recent separation, this is something that some parents may find difficult.

As both parents would essentially be 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 each other could give rise to arguments or confrontation.

This kind of arrangement would unlikely be workable as a long-term solution but may assist in the short to medium term.

What are the legal considerations and implications? 

A nesting arrangement does not necessarily require any solicitor involvement. However, there are other matters that parties may need to consider, including financial arrangements following separation and the long-term arrangements for the children.

To ensure success, it is important that parents consider all matters and agree on the terms of the nesting arrangements from the outset.

If both parties agree to a nesting arrangement, parents need to agree on a clear schedule to provide stability and routine for the children.

Parents can draw up a parenting plan, or in some cases, a formal child arrangements order may be approved by the court to record the long-term arrangements in a legally binding document.

There are also various financial implications to consider:

  • How will the family home be paid for?
  • Who will pay what?
  • How long should the property be used for nesting?
  • How will any equity be split when you eventually sell the house?

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.

Harrison Drury 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 01772 258 321.

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