The 3 “e’s” to discuss before nesting after divorce

Nesting is a relatively new form of child custody arrangement.

A relatively new form of post-divorce parenting is gaining popularity: nesting. Nesting essentially involves the family home remaining the family home. Instead of children shuffling between the mother and father's home the children remain in the family home.

The parents have two options. They either cohabitate after the divorce within the family home or take turns living in the home while sharing custody of the children.

This form of parenting has become so popular that it has resulted in fodder for a new sitcom. The show, called "Splitting Up Together," follows the story of a mother and father who take turns living in the family home with their children.

Although the arrangement can lead to some comic situations, parents that find themselves seriously considering divorce and searching for the parenting arrangement that works best for their family need serious solutions - not jokes. The following provides some basic information to help you decide if this form of parenting is the right answer for your post-divorce family.

Pros and cons of nesting

There are both pros and cons to the arrangement. Financially, keeping the family home as opposed to selling it can prove beneficial. This is particularly true if the housing market in your neighborhood is experiencing a downturn or if the home was recently purchased and you have yet to gain much equity.

The arrangement can also prove beneficial for the emotional and psychological wellbeing of the children. Children do not have to switch schools or change their routine. They can go about with their lives in relatively the same way as it was prior to the divorce. Both parents are still actively involved in the children's lives, albeit likely in weekly increments.

A potential con to this arrangement is the fact that it results in continued interaction between the parents. It requires communication and cooperation between the parents. Experts in child psychology note that a negative and argumentative environment is not beneficial for children. The potential benefits of the arrangement for the children will likely be negated if the parents cannot get along.

Some also may find their family now has three residences: the family home, a home for the mother and a home for the father. This can be financially depleting. However, it is important to note that the housing for the mother and father does not need to be structured to meet the needs of the children as they will remain within the family home. The parents can choose housing that is relatively smaller or with less of a yard.

Discuss the 3 "e's" before agreeing to a nesting arrangement

Those who choose to attempt nesting can better ensure success by discussing the following:

  • Expenses. How household expenses for the family home are covered? Touch on everything from mortgage payments to a sudden need for a new furnace.
  • Expectations. One common cause of contention during a nesting arrangement centers on household expectations. Who will maintain the home during the arrangement? Will each parent be responsible for basic cleaning and caretaking while in the home? Discuss these expectations prior to beginning the arrangement.
  • Exit. Develop an exit plan. This can include an expected time limit on the arrangement as well as a plan that will help transition out of the agreement if the nesting arrangement does not work.

It is important to discuss these issues prior to finalizing your divorce settlement agreement and child custody arrangements. An attorney experienced in child custody matters can provide counsel, better ensuring your family's interests are protected with the final divorce settlement agreement.