Bird's Nest Arrangements: A Child-Centered Approach to Parenting After SeparationA Bird’s Nest Arrangement (also known as a “nesting arrangement”) is a child-centered arrangement where, following a separation, the children remain in the family home and the parents take turns leaving the home and sharing the children’s care. Some psychologists argue that nesting arrangements are less disruptive for children since the children do not have to adapt to living in two separate homes.

Nesting arrangements work best between parents who maintain good communication and cooperation. While some parents may want to minimize the disruption to their children’s lives following a separation, these arrangements can be expensive. If the parents are able to share a secondary residence for the times that they are away from the family home, a nesting arrangement need not be more expensive than the parents living in two separate residences with the children living in both homes (especially since the parents do not have to purchase additional supplies for the children in each home). However, if sharing a secondary residence is not an option and they do not have family/friends that can accommodate them every other week, the parents are left to maintain three residences, which would likely be impossible for many families.

This type of arrangement was recently ordered by Justice Rogin of the Ontario Superior Court in the case of Veljanovski v Veljanovski (2015 CarswellOnt 9263). In that case, the parties had continued to live together following their separation. Both parties sought interim custody of their two children, aged 5.5 and 4 years old, and argued that the matter was urgent as tensions between them were starting to rise. Justice Rogin ordered that each party was to have exclusive possession of the matrimonial home on alternating weeks, with the children staying in the home at all times. The parties were to share all the expenses associated with the home, and provide any consumables for the children during their week in the home. The Order granted by Justice Rogin was very detailed and included direction with respect to exchange times, communication between the parties and telephone calls. Where the parties went during their week away from the matrimonial home was not discussed in the case.