WHAT IS CO-NESTING?

A living arrangement, colloquially referred to as ‘nesting’ or ‘bird-nesting’, and which we at FM Family Law consider is best described as ‘co-nesting’, involves continued co-parenting within the same ‘nest’.

Co-nesting is when the family home is kept as a home for the children, and separating parents take it in turns to live in the former family home and at alternative accommodation. This enables separating parents to continue to care for their children. It’s an arrangement  that we are seeing become increasingly popular. It can be used in the early stages of separation, also enabling parents to take their time to work out their longer term living and shared parenting arrangements.

 

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT?

Co-nesting can have many advantages, especially for children.  It allows children to maintain a sense of stability and continuity, making it less difficult for them to cope with their parents’ separation. They get to stay in their own rooms, go to the same schools, and have their own routines.  In that sense, it allows arguably a more child-centred approach to separation as a lot of the burden of adjusting and moving falls to parents and not their children.

When not at home, parents may choose to stay with friends or family, in a hotel, house-sit, rent a room in a shared house, or split the cost of a small apartment or house big enough for one person at a time. There may be financial advantages in the short term, as the family is not having to fund the cost of two households large enough for the children to stay in which is particularly prudent in the current cost of living crisis.

 

IS IT SUITABLE?

Co-nesting typically requires a high level of cooperation and communication. It  can be emotionally and financially challenging.  There needs to be some level of respect and trust between parents as they are co-existing in the same space, albeit at different times.  But for some separated parties, it can be a valuable child focused way to co-parent their children and maintain a sense of stability for their family.

Generally, co-nesting is more suitable where the separation is amicable and there is a good level of healthy communication between parents. It is unlikely to be appropriate in cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse or if there are safeguarding concerns.

 

TOP TIPS

There are a number of ways parents can set themselves up for co-nesting success.

 

1. AGREE GROUND RULES

Before the new living arrangement begins, parents should sit down and agree the ‘rules of engagement’, to include communicating their expectations, anticipated timeframe, preferences and boundaries (which may include agreeing that new partners may not attend the home).

Parties may decide to continue to have dinner together once a week in the family home, or simply agree that a civil and brief handover in the hallway when the other party returns home is all that’s needed.

 

2. CREATE A SCHEDULE

This could include a clear schedule for each parent’s time in the house and a schedule for activities and chores.  It is vital that both parents have a clear agreement about where each of them will be and when for the arrangement to succeed. The use of a parenting communication app, such as Our Family Wizard may assist with maintaining a healthy dialogue of communication.

 

3. INVOLVE THE CHILDREN

If the children are of an appropriate age, parents could involve them in the decision-making process and consider their needs and preferences. This would be usual for children of around 10 years of age and upwards.

 

4. HAVE A BACKUP PLAN

Parents should always have a backup plan in the event something unexpected arises. This can include in instances of sickness or issues with travel.

 

CAN CO-NESTING WORK LONG-TERM?

While it may sound like a positive outcome for co-parenting in the short to mid term, and at critical stages in a child’s life, it is unlikely that co-nesting will work effectively as a long-term solution.

It is inevitable that co-nesting maintains a level of connection between the adults, which of course may bring difficulty at a time when people may need to feel a sense of closure moving on or starting afresh. This may be exacerbated further when one party commences a new relationship, if not handled sensitively.

Co-nesting also fails to achieve financial separation between parties, which may leave parties feeling vulnerable and unable to achieve independence.

In the shorter term however parents who are able to agree a co-nesting plan for their children might be more successful in being able to navigate and agree some of the more challenging longer term aspects of their separation. Arguably, the value of a co-nesting plan provides an excellent foundation for separating parents to later embark on the next stage of their own lives after divorce or separation.

If you wish to discuss your co-nesting options, or the fallout of your separation in greater detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me and I shall be pleased to advise further on whether this will work for you and your family.

Kerry Read

Kerry Read

Solicitor

01603 343669

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Note: The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.