Nesting: New Strategies For Divorcing Families

Nesting is a new post-divorce co-parenting strategy in which the children remain in the same home and the parents move in and out. The purpose of nesting is to ensure that children have a stable living arrangement. However, nesting is also difficult for divorced parents to coordinate. It relies on parents to share the same living space. Moreover, nesting is expensive. The parents have to pay for two or more different housing arrangements.

Benefits of Nesting

The best way to minimize the trauma of divorce on children is to keep the process as amicable and low-conflict as possible. Nesting minimizes the trauma because it keeps the kids in familiar places. The children can go to the same schools, see their same friends, go to the same parks, and engage in the same recreational activities with minimal disruption. While divorce does not mean the children lose out on all familiar activities, the act of moving back and forth between households takes time, which impacts their free time for other familiar activities.

Nesting Strategies

Nesting is a shared custody strategy that is done in two ways: (1) parents maintain their separate residences and share the family home, and (2) parents share a smaller separate home and share the family home. The first approach is generally understood as out of reach for most parents because of the large expense. The parents pay for their separate homes and utilities and split the cost of the family home. This approach’s benefit is that the parents keep their separate space, which minimizes the potential for conflict.

The second approach is deemed as more viable for many parents. In this approach, the parents rent a small separate home they share – often a studio apartment. The parents take turns rotating in and out of the studio and family home. The issue with this approach is that the parents never have their separate space. They need to share expenses for the separate residence and the family home. Accordingly, the potential for conflict is significantly increased.

Short-Term Nesting

In general, the first year or two after the divorce are the hardest on the kids. Accordingly, many matrimonial lawyers recommend divorcing parents limit nesting to the first six months or year. It is believed that nesting is a good short-term solution to minimize the initial trauma of divorce, but that nesting for long periods of time isn’t healthy for the children or parents.

Specifically, experts believe that children develop anxieties because they know they will eventually have to live in separate homes but are uncertain when that stage begins. In particular, experts advise that extended nesting periods can give children the wrong message that their parents may reconcile.

Burden on Parents

Nesting only works so long as parents are on good terms. Parents need to coordinate living arrangements, share bills, food, and space. Notably, if parents couldn’t share life while married – they likely can’t in divorce. Moreover, parents lack privacy in this arrangement. It is hard to date. There are many potential conflicts that parents will need to communicate about to making nesting viable.