Unless abuse or neglect has been an issue at home, most children view their homes as a safe haven in which to grow up. When a divorce happens, children are usually shuttled between parents as part of a shared custody arrangement. While that may work for some, most children would prefer being in their own homes where they feel safe and secure. Nesting allows for this.
Nesting — or “bird nesting” — is when the children stay in the marital home and the parents come and go. Typically, the schedule is one week on/one week off. Ex-spouses may share a rental property where each one lives alone during their off time, or have their own places. Nesting minimizes disruption for the children as they adjust to the change that divorce brings, allowing them to live at home with the same pets, school, and circle of friends that helps to stabilize them emotionally.
Nesting does not work for everyone — or even, experts say, for most. First, it can be expensive, since you are maintaining two or possible three residences. And if the divorce was full of conflict, it will probably not work. Some experts believe that nesting is a good solution for the first six months, but after that, couples should establish their own homes with space for the children in each home. They say that this helps to eliminate any confusion the children may feel about their parents getting back together.
Divorced parents who have tried nesting agree that it only works if:
- Both parents agree on parenting rules and get along with each other most of the time.
- It is economically feasible for both parents to maintain separate living spaces and still afford to keep the marital home.
- You and your ex can agree on the sharing of household chores.
- You and your ex can agree on who pays for what and how the equity will be distributed once the marital home is sold.
- You can work together to ensure your children don’t harbor fantasies that nesting means you will eventually reunite.
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