Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
There are pros and cons to any post-separation living arrangement, but helping clients to make the process as painless for everyone as possible is something that as a Family Solicitor at Wilson Browne, I consider paramount in my job.
I want to help my client understand and try and prioritise their children’s emotional needs. Regardless of whether there is one home, two homes, or exceptionally houses next door, the truth is that the children’s wellbeing depends on how well their parents get on and that they are aligned and respectful in their co-parenting, no matter what they feel privately about one another.
Whatever the arrangements, I always advise my clients that the children must be the central platform around which plans are built. I tell my client that they share a joint responsibility in bringing the children up and getting them through their parent’s separation as un-traumatised as possible.
One of the common post-separation arrangements is that each has their own home, and the children spend half of their time in each. If one of those can be the original family home, it will add stability, but clients should not fixate on the lack of continuity if it has to be sold.
This is not easy for children, but I think parents should remember, it is better for them to divide their time between two homes in which each parent is content than staying in one with warring parents.
How children cope, largely depends on how each parent behaves. Adults create the atmosphere in the home and if a parent is immature or selfish, the 50-50 arrangement can be harmful for children.
It is understandable that frequently, parents will be angry and anxious, but if the children become the battleground over which their parents vent their rage, then they will suffer, no matter the living arrangements.
Putting the children first means protecting them from emotional turmoil and being flexible and helping if your ex asks you to take the children in an emergency (“No, sorry, not my day, I can’t do anything”).
It is a common arrangement that one parent only sees their children every other weekend post separation. In this scenario, the weekday parent will often complain they have become the disciplinarian while the ex becomes the fun weekend parent. This is even more likely if this arrangement is Court imposed, not agreed upon by the parents independently and they fight to be the parent the children like the most.
Children need boundaries. If possible, the same rules should apply in each household and parents should go out of their way not to contradict each other.
Another arrangement is for the children to stay in the same house with one parent while the other can visit at any time. For this arrangement to work for everyone, it is always sensible to agree “what does it mean, that the other person can visit at any time? What if they start to interfere? How will the other tolerate the backseat parent?”. It depends on a level of respect from the parent allowed to pop in day or night. Establishing routines can certainly help.
Some have no formal arrangements with homes close by so that the children can come and go. This is an arrangement more suited to older children.
A Nesting Arrangement means an arrangement where the children get the stability of staying in the family home while each parent moves in and out.
The arrangement sounds ideal in theory, but it can also be fraught with difficulties. It is usually considered beneficial when serving a family in the short term as it can maintain normality for the children during the early stages of their parents’ relationship breakdown. What it does require is for the parents to have alternative accommodation and this can add expense. Nesting arrangements do appear to be on the rise in the UK.
You may well ask “how much say should the children have?”. It is important they feel involved and comfortable taking their wishes into account and so that decisions can be made as a family. The age of the children is an important consideration.
If you are separating from your partner and have children together and you think that a Nesting Arrangement could work for your family, it would be advisable to record any agreed terms in writing.