Child Custody and Nesting

As a parent, both you and your spouse likely want what is best for your child, and the issue of custody and visitation is very important to you. A new idea in co-parenting is evolving, called nesting. Nesting, or "bird's nest parenting" puts a new spin on traditional shared custody arrangements by allowing the child to stay in one place while the parents move in and out. Nesting is not for everyone, but this new phenomenon can provide some surprising benefits for both children and parents. To find out if nesting might be right for your family, read on.

What is nesting?

Most often, the "nest" in this situation is the family home. Children are not too fond of change, and divorce is often traumatic, no matter how skilled the parents are at preparation and execution. This method of dealing with the parental split means that the child can stay in the family home, allowing the child to experience stability and security at this tumultuous time.

What about the parents?

Divorce often involves one parent keeping the family home and the other parent moving out to buy or rent another home. With nesting, the parents purchase an additional living space together, which each parent will take turns using. For example, mom lives in the family home with the child for two weeks, while dad lives in house #2 for two weeks, alone. Then the parents switch out, with mom moving into house #2 for two weeks while dad takes her place at the family home.

The advantages of nesting.

  1. Financial: Renting a small studio apartment with the rent shared between two people can save the parents money. The maintenance and mortgage or rent payments on the family home can be a burden in a traditional custody situation for the primary custodial parent. With both parents sharing the expense of both the family home and a cheaper apartment, it not only distributes time with the children but financial burdens as well.
  2. It buys time: Having to make decisions about who gets the family home or having sell the home in a possibly bad real estate market are eliminated. Nesting allows you to delay, even if only temporarily, major decisions.

Disadvantages of nesting.

  1. Nesting requires that parents are able to work out fair financial arrangements and have careful plans for who pays what and where. If you are not able to communicate and work issues out with your ex, nesting may not be right for you.
  2. Child support can become more complicated to figure, so having a divorce attorney who is well-versed in this type of arrangement is key.
  3. Finally, who decides when it's time to make new arrangements? One or both parents may wish to form a new relationship and move on, making it challenging to continue with nesting.

This new type of parenting plan has many advantages, but make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page with very specific guidelines and rules when you make your nesting agreement. Consult with a family law attorney to assist you in creating a good, workable parenting plan for you and your child's future.