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The first question asked by most parents in the midst of a separation is “What’s best for our kids?” Navigating co-parenting and figuring out the best living arrangements for separating couples and their children is no easy feat.

What is Nesting?

Traditionally, most couples who decide to separate, do just that. They separate their lives and begin living in separate homes, with the children going back and forth to each parent. The concept of ‘nesting’ or ‘bird nesting’ is an alternative arrangement being adopted by an increasing number of parents.

The concept comes from nesting birds, with the parents alternating to stay with their babies while the other searches for food. For separating parents, instead of the children going between each parents’ house, the children remain living in the former matrimonial home, and the parents leave the home, to alternative accommodation for the other parents ‘spend time’ period.

Such an arrangement is really only a viable option if both parties are extremely amicable with each other and would likely not be successful for volatile or difficult breakups.

It may also be important for parties to enter into a parenting plan, or other parenting arrangement to avoid confusion and formalise any agreement reached between the parties.

Advantages

The main advantage for most families would mean that the children are able to smoothly transition to separated parents as they are remaining in their home and usual environment and minimising changes in their routine.

This concept can also allow for a smoother transition financially as the alternative accommodation is usually utilised by both parties in their ‘off’ weeks or days to save on costs. The parties may also have family or friends they’re able to stay with during this period.

This can also assist with couples who either cannot decide on what to do with the former matrimonial home or are not ready to take the step of severing their financial relationship.

Disadvantages  

Whilst the enmeshment of finances may be an advantage to some parties, for others the process of achieving a financial settlement may mean more of a clean break and may assist both parties to move forward with their lives. Even if you’re able to achieve a financial settlement and continue with a nesting arrangement, it’s likely that your finances will continue to intermingle to some extent, with the costs of maintaining the nesting home, covering utilities, and other household expenses. This may become quite complicated, particularly when taking into account how child support should be calculated.

The practical side of nesting can also raise some issues. For example, do the parties use the same or separate bedrooms? Do both parties remove all personal items each time they leave the nesting home? If not, how is privacy maintained in a shared bedroom?

It is also important to consider if this arrangement may be more confusing for the children in the long term.

What may arguably be the most complicated issue, what happens when either party moves on and enters into a new relationship and progress to wanting to live together. How would the other parent feel knowing that their ex’s new partner is living in their space?

So, is nesting a good idea?

Determining if nesting is a good idea, really depends on the specifics of different couples’ circumstances. However, it would be fair to suggest that based on the above advantages and disadvantages that for most people, nesting can work in the short term, but the complications may likely increase in the long term, making it too difficult to maintain. Specifically, when it comes to the separation of finances. Achieving a financial settlement is extremely important to moving forward with your life and protecting yourself from future claims against your assets. To find out more about the practicalities of a nesting arrangement and your rights when it comes to your finances, please book an appointment with one of our family lawyers by calling (08) 9375 3411.

About the Author: Graduating from Charles Darwin University with Bachelor degrees in Law and Arts, Abbish was admitted to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory before moving to the West. Specialising in Family Law, Abbish is dedicated to assisting her clients navigate through their Family Law journey to achieve the best possible outcome.

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