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‘Bird’s Nest’ Custody Takes Off in the UK

20th April 2016

A new shared custody arrangement dubbed 'Bird's nest custody' is taking off in the UK, according to new research published today by Co-op Legal Services.*

Originating in America, Co-op's new research reveals that the UK is following suit, as over a tenth (11%) of UK'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.**

Highlighting that this new child custody arrangement is becoming more popular, almost two thirds (64%) agreed that 'bird's nest custody' will become more common.

Furthermore almost a fifth (16%) of divorced and separated adults said if they had the chance again, they would put such an agreement in place. Half (52%) 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 (34%) agreed it would have been beneficial for their children to have stayed close to their friends and a further third (31%) said this would have made the divorce transition easier.

Separated and divorced adults also said 'bird's nest custody' agreements would appeal to separating families for the following reasons:

  • Almost a third (29%) felt that keeping their children close to their school would make it worthwhile
  • A quarter (25%) said this agreement would have meant they could stay close to their own friends and family
  • Almost a fifth (18%) said they wouldn't have had to sell their house at a time where the housing market was weak
  • Almost a fifth (17%) said staying close to after school social clubs would have been good for their children
  • Over a tenth (15%) agreed it would have meant less of a commute to school for their children

Furthermore, a fifth (18%) of separated and divorced adults said their children would have liked the concept of a 'bird's nest' custody. Over half (51%) of UK's divorced adults said that they would be willing to accept their ex's new partner in their marital home.

Commenting on this new child custody arrangement, Tracey Moloney, Head of Family Law at Co-op Legal Services, "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."

For more information please contact

Emily Dalton: Emily.dalton@co-operative.coop 07738 621 201

Lauren Hoult: Lauren.hoult@co-operative.coop 07702 505 626

*The most recent legal term to describe a shared custody arrangement is 'shared care'.

**Research was conducted among 750 UK divorced and separated adults by Atomik research on behalf of Co-op Legal Services

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