COUNTY NEWS: More parents considering '˜birds nest custody'

A new shared custody arrangement dubbed '˜birds nest custody' is taking off in the South East, according to new research published by Co-op Legal Services.

Originating in America, Co-op’s new research reveals the region is following suit, as over a fifth (21 per cent) of the South East’s separated and divorced adults haven’t followed ‘traditional’ child custody arrangements.

Instead, they allowed their children to remain in their family home and they as parents moved in and out of the house, to avoid causing disruption to their lives.

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Tracey Moloney, head of Private Family at Co-op Legal Services, said: “Traditionally, where couples separate and have shared custody of their children, the marital home is sold and both parents each purchase or rent a new property. The children are then expected to move between both properties depending on whether they are at ‘mum’s’ or ‘dad’s’.

“What we’re starting to see is a new custody arrangement emerging where instead of disrupting the children’s home life, the parents do the moving.

“Moving from one parent’s property to another can be difficult for children. With this new custody arrangement, parents move in and out of the marital home depending on when they have custody of their children.

“Separation and divorce can be difficult and upsetting times for families. This new arrangement is very much about putting parents’ needs aside and focusing on the children.”

Highlighting the fact this new child custody arrangement is becoming more popular, almost two thirds (65 per cent) agreed that ‘birds nest custody’ will become more common.

Furthermore, almost a fifth (18 per cent) of divorced and separated adults from the area said that if they had the chance again, they would put such an agreement in place.

Over half (57 per cent) felt that keeping their children in the family home and rotating their living arrangements around them would have caused their kids less upset and upheaval.

A third (33 per cent) agreed it would have been beneficial for their children to have stayed close to their friends, and over a tenth (14 per cent) said this would have made the divorce transition easier.

Separated and divorced adults in the South East also said that ‘birds nest custody’ agreements would appeal to separating families for the following reasons:

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) felt that keeping their children close to their school would make it worthwhile.

Almost a fifth (19 per cent) said this agreement would have meant they could stay close to their own friends and family.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) said they wouldn’t have had to sell their house at a time where the housing market was weak.

Over a tenth (14 per cent) said staying close to after school social clubs would have been good for their children.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) agreed it would have meant less of a commute to school for their children.

Almost a third (30 per cent) of separated and divorced adults also said their children would have liked the concept of a ‘birds nest’ custody. Over half (53 per cent) of the South East’s divorced adults said that they would be willing to accept their ex’s new partner in their marital home.

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