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Alternative parenting arrangements: nesting

The needs of families are as unique as the circumstances and individuals involved. Nonetheless, parenting arrangements generally fall into the format of shuttling kids between the parents’ homes. Some parents favor keeping the kids in one home during the school week and the other on weekends. Another plan splits up the time in blocks of days. Those parents who live in different states may have the kids on certain alternating holidays and summers.

One plan that has gotten a lot of attention recently is the concept of nesting or bird nesting. Instead of the children moving, the premise of nesting is to keep the kids in the family home while the parents rotate in and out at prearranged times. The parents may even share a second residence they stay in when not on parent duty.

The advantages of nesting

Child psychologists believe there are certain advantages to keeping the kids in the family home:

  • Consistency: It minimizes the disruption to the kids’ routine by allowing them to stay in their room, be near friends and enjoy all the comforts of home.
  • It is easier: Parents with youngsters or three or more kids may find this easier.
  • It can be cheaper: The apartment above the garage is certainly cheap, but so is sharing a small apartment instead of buying a second full-sized house.
  • Helps with the transition: Having both parents in the family home enforces the message that the family is still intact despite the parental split.

The disadvantages of this plan

Parents sometimes split because they can no longer live under the same roof, which could mean unnecessary stress if they are sharing the two residences. Child experts also say this plan could send mixed signals about a possible reconciliation if the parents’ lives are still deeply intertwined. There may also be complications as one or both ex-spouses start dating.

Course adjustments may be needed

Knowledgeable attorneys can help parents determine a plan based on experience of working with hundreds of families over the years. Ideally, the plan considers future issues, but modifications may still be needed as families determine what works and what does not.

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