When a couple gets divorced and they agree to share custody of their children, the understanding is that each parent will have their own space and the children will split time between those two homes. But what if the children stayed put and parents took turns coming to them?
This is the idea behind “nesting,” a family law trend that has been around for quite some time. While the details may differ depending on the family, the basic idea is that the children stay in one residence, while the two co-parents take turns living in that residence during their parenting time. Each parent could maintain a smaller space of their own, or they could rotate in and out of a second shared space when not with the children.
The potential benefits for the children
The major reason to consider this arrangement would be to ease the difficulties that the children face related to the divorce. When splitting time between two homes, kids can sometimes feel like a guest in both spaces. Nesting would be one way to solve this problem. The parents, rather than the children, assume the inconveniences of going from one home to two homes.
Nesting may make financial sense during a housing crunch
As it has so many times in the past, the United States is currently facing a housing crunch. There is a shortage of available real estate, and the homes that are on the market have become prohibitively expensive for many would-be buyers.
Nesting may be a temporary or long-term solution to this problem. Instead of trying to find two new houses (or even one new house for the parent that moves out), divorced couples can keep the children in the marital residence and obtain a much smaller rental property for when the other parent is with the children. If they ever decide to sell the marital residence, this arrangement allows them to wait for ideal market conditions.
It’s important to consider the potential downsides
There are, of course, some significant tradeoffs to a nesting arrangement. The first is that such an arrangement would make it difficult for either parent to get into a new serious relationship. Second, there would need to be extensive cost sharing between parents regarding everyday expenses like groceries, as well as bigger expenses like the mortgage. Finally, a nesting relationship requires a positive and highly cooperative co-parenting relationship, which isn’t always possible.
That being said, some families can make nesting work and find it to be the best solution for for the children on a temporary or permanent basis.