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Nesting after divorce: What it is, when it can work

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is uprooting the kids and having them go between Mom and Dad. Regardless of whether you keep or sell the house you all lived in together before the divorce, your kids can struggle to feel like they have a stable place to call home when they are switching back and forth.

This is the problem addressed by the practice of bird nesting, or nesting. Following is some basic information on this arrangement as well as suggestions for how to make it work.

What is bird nesting?

Nesting is an arrangement where the kids stay put in one home while the parents switch off who lives there. Instead of going to Mom's house one week and Dad's the next, the kids live in the home and Mom moves in on during her parenting time and leaves when it's Dad's time to live there and be with the kids.

How can people make this work?

This is most certainly not an arrangement for everyone. Many elements should be in place for nesting to work. Parents must:

  • Be able to find and afford separate apartments in addition to the kids' home
  • Agree to both take care of the "nest"
  • Have strong communication skills
  • Respect each other's space
  • Be willing and able to manage the logistics of moving back and forth
  • Prioritize the consistency this provides for the kids over their desire to avoid seeing each other

Whom could this be right for?

Nesting can be something worth considering if you are divorcing amicably, and if both parents agree that keeping the kids in one home is in their best interests. If a divorce is contentious, or if parents don't see eye-to-eye on this type of arrangement, it will likely not work. In these situations, more traditional custody arrangements would typically be more appropriate.

Making this -- or any custody schedule -- work for your family

Whatever type of living situation you decide on after divorce, it is crucial that you have the advice, perspective and support of an attorney who has experience helping families negotiate, establish and enforce custody schedules and agreements. With legal guidance, you can have in place a custody arrangement that works best for you and your kids.

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