Separating parents often voice the stress that separation is having on their children. A parent leaving home is one of the defining moments of change for a child and usually means starting an access schedule, getting used to a new routine and a new home, and a new way of life altogether.
Bird nesting arrangements are co-parenting agreements that some parents try out in an effort to make things easier for their children. The children stay in the family home after separation while the parents take turns moving in and out of the house. This moving in and out usually follows the access schedule. During the time parents are not at home with the children, she or he lives in his or her own separate household. A nesting arrangement tries to ensure a minimum amount of disruption to the daily routines of a child and shifts this significant change to the parents instead. This is meant to be temporary, but it depends on the family and can be viable for quite some time.
If you would like to discuss birdnesting arrangements with your partner, there are some pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Bird nesting:
- Maintains stability for children and familiarity of their home;
- Allows children to stay in the same school area, keep their friends, and remain in community teams/activities (i.e. sports, lessons, classes etc.);
- Helps children ease into the new family dynamic (where they spend time with parents one-on-one);
- Removes the stress children undergo when needing to take belongings back and forth between homes, as everything stays in one place (clothing, toys, personal belongings);
- For parents, it can help with communication as you will need to coordinate with each other and stay flexible in order for the arrangement to work;
- It eliminates the need to make the decision right away about whether you will be selling or keeping your home and may allow for you to wait for a buoyant housing market.
Cons of Bird nesting:
- Can cause confusion for children who, depending on their age and development, may not understand the new arrangement. A child could think the parents are still together, as they are both still living in the house, or could be in denial generally as to what is going on;
- Splitting bill payments for the home could be confusing and difficult for parents. What happens if one parent is able to afford a larger portion of the monthly payments — would bills still be shared equally?;
- Consideration would need to be given to how the costs for the children are shared and how child support is calculated;
- Bearing the cost of a home for the children plus a separate residence can become a financial burden;
- The separating couple would need to consider how things within the home are handled, such as who gets to stay in which bedroom, who purchases groceries, and how general household tasks are handled, such as cleaning, laundry, and cooking for the children;
- Privacy concerns in general could come up. Parents would need to be trusting of each other to know that the other partner is not going through their personal belongings;
- The comings and goings of family members or new partners can become difficult.
Bird nesting arrangements are something that works for some and not for others. Like other co-parenting arrangements, it is an option among many to consider — especially if parents want to try and minimize immediate changes for their children.
This blog post was written by Olivia Koneval, a member of the Family Law team. She can be reached at 613-369-0367 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.