Nesting: Co-Parenting Initiative for Divorce
When parents decide they need to separate, the one thing they can most often agree is that neither of them wants to hurt the children.
It is with this in mind that the ‘bird’s nest’ co-parenting idea has developed. Picture a bird’s nest full of small chicks waiting to be fed. Now envisage the parent birds taking it in turns to bring food to the open beaks and you have the basis for a new parenting plan with the children at the heart.
The “bird's nest” co-parenting arrangement is one that is uniquely child-centred. Rather than the children having to adapt to the parents’ needs by living in two separate dwellings, they remain in the family home and the parents take turns to move in and out.
Just like birds alighting and departing the “nest,” each parent will spend an agreed amount of time in the family home and then move out to separate accommodation to give the other parent the chance to be at home with the children.
Some parents rent a separate house or flat and share the costs between them. This means they both enjoy spending time in the family home, but have the solitude of the other property in between.
Children experience much less disruption in their lives, they are still near their school and friends and yet have good quality time with both of their parents.
Jenny, a recently divorced mother of two teenage boys said: ‘Overall I found it a great solution in the short term. It gave the kids stability by remaining in the same home and meant that there was a gap between separating and settlement. It gave time for the bitterness and anger to calm down.
‘We had argued over who should be the one to leave. There is no easy answer to that when you both want to be with the children and they want to be with mum and dad.
‘So we rented a one bedroom flat which avoided the need for one of us to rent a large property. This worked out cheaper for us both.
‘The downside was that I found it tiring moving from the house to the flat, having to pack and unpack every week. But I did enjoy the peace and quiet and having time away from looking after the boys.
‘We kept it going for 18 months, but after that it made sense for me to move back to the house.’
Nesting will not work for all parents; there has to be a high degree of trust and co-operation between them and the parents have to be able to live close to each other. It is likely to be more challenging when new partners arrive on the scene.
It can though offer a cost effective solution, renting a small place as opposed to a family home; not having to kit out two properties with beds, toys, two sets of clothes etc can all save much needed money.
A clearly drafted co-parenting plan or deed of separation at the outset is essential. If parents can agree the fine tuning of their arrangement, this will often shield the children from the worst of the parental fall out.