Co-Parenting: what are “nesting arrangements” and how do they work?
June 29, 2022
The phrase “nesting arrangement” refers to a situation whereby the children remain living in one property after their parents separate, and the parents take it in turns to live in that property and care for the children.
Nesting arrangements are most commonly used as a short-term solution on separation. These arrangements enable the children to have stability and security whilst one or both parents set up a new property, and allow the children to remain near their school, friends and hobbies.
Once the new properties are established, the nesting arrangement is usually abandoned, with the children dividing their time between both parents’ homes.
In the recent case of Re A, B and C (Children: Nesting Arrangement)  EWCA Civ 68, the three children (aged 17, 15 and 9) lived with both of their parents under a nesting arrangement. The arrangement had initially been agreed between the parents. However, at a financial remedy hearing, Cohen J described the arrangement as “deeply unsatisfactory”. He ordered an Independent Social Worker to advise on the living arrangements which would most benefit the children.
The mother wanted to share the care of the children in the usual way, whereby they would move between her home and their father’s home. The father wanted the nesting arrangement to continue. The children also wanted the nesting arrangement to continue, although two of them expressed a desire to also spend time at the mother’s new property.
The Independent Social Worker made a recommendation in line with the mother’s position. Cohen J agreed with the Social Worker, stating that the nesting arrangement “has significantly overextended beyond the time that it has been helpful to the children.”
The father appealed. He claimed, among other things, that the decision was not what the children wanted. His appeal was dismissed.
The Court of Appeal found that the decision was made with the children’s best interests in mind, and that nesting arrangements usually work best “when the parents are in accord.” In this case, the parents were no longer in agreement about the suitability of the nesting arrangements.
The burning question for recently separated parents is likely to be this: “How should we care for our children and is a nesting arrangement appropriate?”
There is no right answer to this question; as ever, “it depends”.
A nesting arrangement is likely to be a helpful short-term solution in cases where the parents:
- Remain amicable;
- Agree to take it in turns to live in the family home; and
- Have alternate accommodation available to them for when they are not living with the children.
Nesting arrangements are less appropriate where there:
- Is a great degree of animosity between the parents;
- Has been a history of domestic abuse and/or coercive control;
- Are insufficient funds to run multiple properties, or where there are no family/friends who are able to house the parents when they are not living with the children.
If you are in need of advice about children arrangements, or specifically nesting arrangements, please get in touch.
John Hooper & Co
8th June 2022