Divorced and separated parents have many issues they don’t see eye-to-eye on. But nearly all co-parents want to make the transition to separate households as painless as possible for their kids.
When divorce enters the picture, most of us think about child custody in the traditional way where parents live in separate homes and their children move back and forth. But what if your children stayed put, and you and your ex took turns living in the family home? It’s called “nesting.”
Benefits of a nesting arrangement
Children suffer when their parents don’t get along. Divorce is devastating even when co-parents remain on good terms. Nesting can be a good option, especially when children are very young. Here are some of the benefits:
- Nesting minimizes disruptions as kids aren’t constantly moving back and forth between different households
- Children typically have consistent quality time with mom and dad
- Parents have more time to think about major divorce-related issues, such as selling the family home
- Putting their children’s needs first can help parents rebuild trust and civility
- Reduced stress levels regarding exchanges
- Kids remain in a familiar environment, close to their school and friends
- It shows everyone else that they are willing to do anything necessary to be good parents
In some cases, nesting amounts to a trial separation period where parents can evaluate the relationship and determine whether divorce is the best option.
Things to work out
Along with the benefits of nesting, parents face some challenges. They will have to assess many issues, including:
- Where they will stay when not the “on-duty” parent, such as sharing an apartment with their ex when they are off-duty or living with relatives
- Whether they can afford the new living arrangement
- Working out schedules for their children, paying bills and communicating with each other
- Confidence that the other parent will hold up their end of the arrangement
It’s essential that both of you are on the same page. Creating additional conflict will only be passed along to your children and can undo much of the good intended by nesting.
Nesting is rarely a long-term solution
While each person and family is different, experts say the average nesting arrangement lasts only about a year to 18 months. Your child’s age and their needs are the most important factors to consider. However, that time is a crucial transition period for your children to adapt. It’s advisable to seek experienced legal guidance to create a detailed nesting arrangement that can benefit your family.