One of the most difficult aspects of any divorce involving children is making custody decisions. As parents, you want to minimize the impact of your divorce on your children. You also want to make sure that you still get to spend as much time as possible with your kids.
A potential solution is a co-parenting arrangement known as “nesting”. With this type of agreement, the kids stay in the family home — or nest — while the parents take turns moving in and out of the house. In this way, the children have less disruption in their lives after a divorce.
However, this arrangement isn’t for everyone, particularly if a divorce is acrimonious, if the parents don’t live in the same area, or if the parents cannot afford one or more separate dwellings for when they aren’t “in the nest.” If you are contemplating divorce, a San Diego family law attorney can help you determine if this or another type of custody agreement will work in your situation.
What Is Nesting?
Nesting is a relatively old concept in parenting and family law world. The way it works can vary, but the basic concept involves the children remaining in one home (the “nest”) while each parent takes turns living at the house. This can help kids maintain stability while the parents live apart after a divorce.
When parents are not at home with their kids, they live in a separate home or apartment. This may be a place that both parents share to minimize costs or a dwelling for each parent. A nesting, the co-parenting arrangement can be temporary or permanent.
There are some advantages to nesting. Kids get to stay in one home — often the house that they grew up in — rather than having to shuttle back and forth between two different households. This reduces disruptions to kids’ lives after a divorce and can help them transition to a new normal.
Of course, there are drawbacks to nesting as well. It can be expensive to maintain up to three separate residences, and it doesn’t work in all situations or with every dynamic.
Is Nesting Right for You?
In California, there are two types of child custody: legal (the ability to make important decisions about your children’s lives) and physical (who your children live with). Both legal and physical custody can be joint (shared) or sole (primary). Both types of child custody are determined based on the best interests of the child.
Under California law, parents must undergo mediation before they can have a scheduled hearing on the issue of child custody and visitation. During this time, the issue of co-parenting arrangements like nesting may be discussed.
While there are benefits to nesting, the drawbacks are significant. First, parents may not be able to maintain both the family home as well as one or more separate residences. Depending on where you live, rent on even a studio or one-bedroom apartment may be expensive, making this type of agreement cost-prohibitive.
In some cases, nesting may be less costly than establishing and maintaining two homes that can accommodate both the custodial parent and the kids. In addition, the children wouldn’t need extra sets of clothes or toys if they are living in the same home.
Second, nesting only works if both parents live and work in the same area. If one parent moves out of the county or out of the state, it will be difficult (or even impossible) for them to pursue this type of arrangement.
Third, if one or both parents has a new partner, then nesting may not be feasible. While it is still possible to co-parent in this way, it may be challenging for the parent’s new relationship if they are moving back to their family home every week or if they share a separate residence with their ex.
Fourth, if the divorce was acrimonious, nesting may not work. Privacy issues can be a major concern for parents in this situation, particularly if they share the non-nest dwelling. If you don’t have a good relationship with your soon-to-be former spouse, then you may not want to share a living space — even if you aren’t living in the same residence together.
Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, nesting only works if parents are truly able to co-parent (as opposed to parallel parenting). To effectively co-parent, each parent must:
- Be able to separate their marital conflict from their parenting responsibilities
- Be able to stay amicable and cooperative
- Maintain consistency when it comes to discipline and child-rearing techniques
- Agree to ground rules regarding maintenance of the house
- Agree to rules for their children
- Respect the other parent
- Be able to stick to the agreed-upon arrangements.
A co-parenting plan that spells out the details of a nesting arrangement drafted by a skilled San Diego family law attorney is essential in these situations. Resources on co-parenting can also be helpful as you make this often-difficult transition.
While nesting isn’t for everyone, it can be a way to achieve a solution that works for your family. It is just one of a range of solutions that your lawyer may be able to help you achieve.
Contemplating Divorce? We Can Help.
Divorce is stressful for all members of the family — particularly children. Nesting arrangements can be a way to minimize stress and disruptions for kids after a divorce, but they only work if both parents are able to work together to co-parent. If you are considering a divorce, you may want to explore this option as a potential custody arrangement.
At the Law Office of Renkin & Associates, we represent clients throughout San Diego County and Southern California with their family law matters. We are dedicated to helping out clients achieve the best possible resolution for their case. To learn more or to schedule a case evaluation, call us at 619-304-4760, or contact us online.