Divorce is an unfortunate event for any family, particularly those with children. It leaves psychological and emotional scars that haunt children for a lifetime. It is therefore very important to come up with methods to mitigate both the parents and children’s experience as they transition to life as a divorced family. One way to do this is through a nesting arrangement.
A nesting arrangement, also referred to as a ‘bird’s nest’ arrangement is one where parents rotate in and out of their family home to take care of and spend time with the children in the early phase of a divorce. During nesting, the children remain in the family home while parents take turns in and out. The parent on duty stays at the house while the parent who is off duty stays at a separate residence. This separate residence can be their own or it can be rotated with the other parent.
Is a nesting arrangement a sensible option for divorcing parents?
This arrangement is purely child centered and it gives the family an opportunity to try out a custody schedule that they might end up considering in their final settlement. It is a very sensible agreement as the children experience much less disruption of their lives and the routines they’re already accustomed to, while their parents who are more able to deal with the difficulty of divorce come to terms with what is happening. It provides a stable home for the children pending the determination of the divorce and ensures that they do not have to abruptly adapt to completely new living arrangements. It also ensures that their school and neighbourhood friendships are uninterrupted and that they continue maintaining meaningful relationships with both parents. In general, it allows a smoother transition to life as a divorced family which is crucial to the children’s ongoing well being.
Nesting will work best when the parents put their children’s need before their own and separate their co parenting responsibilities from their earlier marital conflicts. They must be ready and prepared to maintain a certain level of consistency, discipline, respect for each other and child raising techniques to make it the arrangement a success. This means they must be able to communicate clearly and peacefully and not take each discussion as an opportunity to argue
The arrangement can be semi permanent or temporary as the parents may mutually agree. They may agree to continue co- parenting until determination of the divorce, until their children graduate or until their last child attains the age of majority etc. This is to say that the period for the nesting arrangement is always at the discretion of the parents. When the co-parenting comes to an end, one parent may either buy the other out in their interest in the family home, or it is sold and the proceeds divided pursuant to the separation agreement or the regime governing matrimonial property.
The pros of this arrangement are that First, the child doesn’t bear the burden of having to move from one home to another during custody exchanges. The moving in and out is left to the parents while the child lives full time in the family home they are used to. This gives the child a sense of stability much more than other types of custody arrangements do. A child in a stable state of mind is able to concentrate in school, be socially active and this promotes their general well being and development. Secondly, it gives the parents time to think about their decision to get divorced. At times all the dispute needs is some space and time off and the parents realize the finality of divorce is not the best solution for their problems after all. They might decide to give their marriage another shot and solve their disputes in other ways, e.g. marriage counseling. Thirdly, this arrangement reassures the children that even though their parents are getting a divorce, they are both capable of keeping the routine, continuity and permanency to which they are accustomed.
The cons of this agreement are that First, parents have to adjust their lives and align it with the custodial requirements. This means they must have another place to live that is close by. Getting separate residences can be very expensive and might cause financial constraints on the parents which can often lead to more conflict. Secondly, the arrangement can be a challenge for parents who no longer get along. It will be uncomfortable for them to interact during custody exchanges and this could create awkward situations both for them and the children.
· Determine where the alternate homes will be. It is wise for both parents to live in close proximity.
· Determine if the arrangement is financially feasible for all parties. It means more living residences and this could raise financial constraints.
· Consider the probability of having other people in your lives. If one parent moves on and gets involved with another person after the divorce, the arrangement might be awkward and not work.
· Determine if the arrangement is really for the children. Both parents should put aside their needs and focus on the well being of the children. They should therefore have respect for one another and not cause each other unneeded stress that might lead to conflicts.
· Clearly spell out the duties of each parent e.g., paying the bills, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, to avoid issues that might lead to conflicts.
If you are considering divorce, are separated or involved in a paternity action and have questions about timesharing, we can help. Please feel free to talk to us about your case. At the Divorce Law Office of James T. Keenan, we understand your individual situation and needs. We are experienced and promise to handle your family law case professionally and passionately. Call 904-359-9060 for a free initial consultation.