In the recent Alberta Queen’s Bench decision of Kowalchuk v Kowalchuk, 2017 ABQB 64, Justice H,B, Veit ordered that the parents of two children, aged 11 and 8, would have shared parenting of the children with a “nesting” provision. That is; the children would continue to live in the matrimonial home and the parents would move in and out of that home on a weekly basis.
Veit J. stated that “one usual impediment to shared parenting is financial: it is expensive to set up what amounts to double accommodations for children; i.e. two residences each of which can accommodate children instead of the one which used to accommodate them prior to separation” (para. 13.)
In this case, the father had a free place to stay when he was not living in the parties’ home with the children and could offer similar accommodation to the wife at no charge, in a property owned by the father’s family. The parties were to equally share the expenses of the matrimonial home until it could be sold. Due to the shared parenting arrangement, Veit J. ordered a set-off of the child support that each parent would otherwise owe to one another.
“Nesting” is child-centered arrangement which attempt to minimize the disruption that children experience through the separation of their parents, and can provide a less costly alternative to maintaining two separate households with adequate accommodations for children. However, it is likely not a preferable arrangement where the parties are in a high conflict divorce and can become complicated when the parties begin to date other people.
In the circumstances of these parties, where the parties were selling the matrimonial home, had free accommodations available to them outside of the home and were both capable of caring for the children, Veit J. found that a shared parenting nesting arrangement appeared to be “perfectly feasible” (para.14.)