Paper Cutouts of a Family During a DivorceYou would do anything to protect your children from the difficulties that come with divorce. One idea that seems appealing is letting them stay in the family home while you and your ex-husband take turns living with them. This concept, known as “nesting” or “bird-nesting,” is great in theory but is not usually sustainable as a permanent solution. We take a look at the pros and cons of this unique custody arrangement.

Nesting Can Have Short-Term Benefits

This plan will only work if you and your ex have had an amicable split. If you found it difficult to share space with him while you were married, nesting does not release you from that burden. In order to be economically feasible, families that use this arrangement rent an apartment that each parent lives in when it’s not their turn to be in the family home. That’s a lot of sharing if you don’t get along!

However, if you can make it work, allowing the kids to stay in a familiar environment for a few months after the divorce can provide much-needed stability and help them through the transition. In order for nesting to be a possibility, you will have to:

  • Have joint custody of the children
  • Maintain co-ownership of the house
  • Have a clear understanding of household responsibilities
  • Set a date when the arrangement will end, and the family will move on

Experts agree that nesting for more than a few months can be harmful to children, who will begin to think there is a chance their parents will reconcile and move back in together. It also makes it hard for the adults to start new relationships when they are sharing an apartment with their ex, even if they are not actually living there together.

Nesting in the Coronavirus Era

While the concept of nesting is not new, it may offer some solutions to the parenting challenges presented by the COVID-10 pandemic. If children are unable to be in school and have to do online school from home, it could make life easier to keep them in one place. If one parent is a healthcare worker or is in another risky profession, he or she could use the shared apartment to sanitize before seeing children. However, if the stress of the pandemic is already putting a strain on the relationship between the ex-spouses, sharing a home is probably not a good idea.

Your Lawyer Can Help You Find a Solution

If you and your ex agree that you want to give nesting a try, it is a good idea to talk to your lawyer about making the arrangement legal. Whether Nathan Law Offices represented you in your divorce or not, we can help you with a change in custody arrangements or any other issues you might have. Contact our Marin County law office to discuss your options.


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