While divorce is not easy for anyone, it can be especially hard on your children, especially when custody arrangements require them to travel back and forth between two different homes. Nesting is an alternative arrangement that allows children to maintain the same residence after their parents’ divorce. You and your ex-spouse take turns spending time with the children according to your parenting plan. To look at it another way, one parent is “on-duty” while the other parent is “off-duty” at all times. The on-duty parent spends time with the kids until it is the other parent’s turn.

According to Psychology Today, nesting is usually a temporary arrangement until you and your ex-spouse can devise a more permanent plan. However, if deemed to be in the children’s interest, nesting can last for years.

Where does the “off-duty” parent go?

You and your spouse can arrange this between the two of you. You may rent an apartment to share with your ex-spouse that the off-duty parent occupies between shifts of parenting time, or you may each rent your own apartment. Another option is to stay with family or friends when not with your children.

What are the potential benefits of nesting?

Nesting can help to minimize the trauma of divorce for children. While your children may eventually divide their time between separate homes, even a temporary nesting arrangement allows them to stay in familiar surroundings and maintain at least some of their regular routines while they adjust to the other changes that are happening.

Nesting can also help ease the financial burden of divorce. It can be less expensive than trying to support two entirely separate households with the same income.

What are potential problems with nesting?

Nesting is not appropriate for every situation. It can only work if you and your ex-spouse are willing and able to put aside your differences and work out the necessary arrangements. It is not appropriate in cases involving substance abuse, mental illness or domestic violence.