One of the biggest questions some couples face upon divorce/separation is who will stay in the home.
Solicitors are seeing a trend called ‘bird nesting’. This trend began in America, but British families are starting to think of the idea themselves, before reaching court.The arrangement keeps the home for their children and the couple take turns living in it. This means the child is not being moved in between homes but instead has one central base and the parents move between 2 houses.
Rachel Ward, family solicitor at Aticus Law Solicitors explains that this is a new concept, something she has only seen come about in the last 18 months, and at the moment only with her clients in London. Rachel explains “This tends to work for families who have a more comfortable lifestyle who can afford 2 or in some occasions 3 homes. However, it can help families who live some distance apart and make life more comfortable if the couple have other family members they can stay with for part of the week.”
The biggest benefit could be for the children, who do not have to suffer upheaval in their lives. It is a child focussed way to divorce/ separate.
However, ‘bird nesting’ can be a tougher arrangement for couples who feel differently about the separation. This lifestyle choice means there is no detachment and that the couple are often seeing each other every few days and there is no privacy in the home. It may also cause conflicts if one person isn’t doing their fair share of housework etc. or inviting new partners into the shared home.
However, most parents feel the children are of utmost importance and making sure the children are comfortable. A carefully drafted separation agreement or a cohabitation agreement can assist in drafting all terms to alleviate any of the issues that often arise in this situation. This would include how all of the expenses including provisions about food shopping as well as the normal mortgage, utility payments would be shared. Included wold be review terms and exclusion clauses so that the arrangement can be terminated with fewer problems.
Finally, you want to have clear rules for behaviour in the home. That includes everything from rules about not talking negatively about the other parent and the extent to which new significant others will be allowed in the home.
It’s really important when parents do this that they establish very clear personal boundaries and a legal agreement can help both parties to adapt comfortably to this way of living.