Guilderland, NY – I sometimes have clients come to see me who have read about “nesting” and have now fallen in love with that idea. While for some families this may be a great idea, so far I have not met any of them.
Nesting is where parents agree to have the children remain in the family home and the parents take turns living in that home with the children, as opposed to having the children rotating between two separate residences once the parents no longer live together. The parents will then have a second residence where the parent who does not have the children at the time lives. In other words, the parents change homes but the children always live in one place. This arrangement is sometimes chosen by parents as a means to provide minimal disruption in the children’s lives, so the children can maintain their routines with school and extracurricular activities, as well as neighborhood friendships. Nesting can occur during the transition of the separation or divorce, or until the children have reached an agreed upon age.
If you are considering this type of arrangement, here are some things to think about:
Expense– Is maintaining the marital residence and a second residence feasible? Does it make sense to simply have two more modest residences? Who is going to be responsible for any necessary repairs, maintenance, and bills of the marital residence?
Privacy– Will the other person respect your “space”? Or is there no place that is “yours”? Does your marital residence have enough bedrooms so you and your “ex” each have your own space or will you be forced to share the marital bedroom? What if either of you is dating someone? How many toothbrushes can comfortably be on the bathroom counter?
Roommates– Do you want to be roommates with your “ex”? Will you be cleaning up after them? Are they eating the food that you bought? This applies to both residences.
Long Term– While initially this may smooth the transition for the children, there are several long term consequences to think about. What if you have a new partner or spouse? Do they go back and forth with you? Will this type of arrangement hinder your ability to move forward from your divorce? How will you decide who will remain in the marital residence once the nesting arrangement has ended?
This is an arrangement that may work better short term than long term. If each parent can stay with a friend or relative on their “off” time, the parents can separate without causing additional housing costs. This may give everyone some breathing room during a difficult time.
Parents will need to set aside their marital differences and learn how to effectively communicate in order for this type of co-parenting plan to work. There must be substantial trust and teamwork between the parents. It is important that there be a comprehensive, written guideline and schedule, detailing all aspects of this arrangement.