While not a new concept, the term "nesting" doesn't often get a lot of attention in divorces. The idea refers to those situations where, after a divorce or separation, the children remain in the same home and the parents move in and out during their respective parenting time.
Sometimes this is a temporary arrangement for a period of three to six months or even up to a year. Less frequently, nesting will be the permanent parenting plan. The temporary arrangement allows the children to adjust to and accept the reality of their parents' divorce.
One nesting parent's perspective on the practice is explained poignantly in a recent New York Times article. Beth Behrendt conveys the concerns as well as the benefits of her somewhat unusual arrangement with her ex and her children.
When facing a divorce or separation, one of the main concerns is the well-being of your children. Traditionally, the children reside with parents in two separate homes, transitioning from one parent to the other. For a number of families, however, the idea of keeping the children in one place is an appealing idea.
Nesting, like any creative solution to parenting time issues, has advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages include:
- Stability for the children
- A singular location for the children's belongings
- Common ground for co-parenting
Some of the disadvantages to consider are:
- Shared space with your ex
- Difficulty keeping track of parent belongings
- Lack of personal space/boundaries in shared home
- Shared expenses/financial considerations
Nesting is not a solution for everyone. You would need to make sure you agree with your spouse or your ex that it will work for you. Coming up with specific guidelines on shared responsibilities such as cleaning and upkeep, financial obligations and transition times are critical for a successful nesting experience. If nesting results in heightened conflict, then it probably isn't right for your family.
Sometimes parents in a nesting arrangement find that they can empathize better with their children's challenges in having to change homes once or twice a week, with the resultant difficulties in keeping track of their school work, personal belongings as well as friendships. As one pre-teen eloquently stated "my parents tell me that the divorce is not my fault. I think it is fair that they are the ones who have to make the adjustments to changing houses."
The real point of this story is to share that unconventional and creative options for co-parenting exist. Carefully research and choose an option that works best for your family. Nesting may just be an appealing option.