Does nesting protect children during divorce?
Written by Jennifer Moshier

Does nesting protect children during divorce?

Once couples decided to divorce, their first instinct is usually to protect the children during their separation. You may want to move or ask your spouse to leave. You don’t necessarily want to uproot your children, but does this mean the spouse who moves out becomes the “visiting” parent? It’s a common quandary, and some co-parents are seeking non-traditional solutions to living situations during and after divorce.

Nesting: For Some, a Lifestyle Option to Better Protect Children During Divorce

“Nesting” is a parenting arrangement that many parents are considering. It allows children to stay in one primary home while the parents take turns living with them. Might this be a solution for your kids?

Nesting is beneficial because it can be less disruptive for the children. Children are already suffering from fear and guilt (yes, guilt) from their parents’ divorce. Some kids cope better when “home” remains their safe haven. Many co-parents maintain two living quarters: The family home and a nearby apartment for “off” weeks.

Benefits of Nesting

For most kids, the main benefit of nesting is that it removes some of their insecurity. They may not say it, but they likely feel everything is changing too fast; it’s scary at any age. Having one major constant – home – can be valuable to apprehensive children during divorce.

Other ways nesting can protect children during divorce include:

  • Children need both parents – When a couple is divorcing, it’s unfortunate but common to compete for the kids’ loyalty. No one wins when divorcing parents divide the family. When parents can focus on ways to protect children during divorce, the kids win.
  • Everyone’s “stuff” stays put – Rather than a full-size residence, co-parents can rent a smaller, affordable apartment. The family home can continue to house bikes, toys, familiar furnishings, memorabilia…everything that would have been divided if one parent moved out.
  • Fewer challenges for special-needs children – Children with physical or emotional challenges may have more difficulty with interruptions in routine.
  • Financial – The need to maintain another living space is a new expense for what might be an already-stretched budget. Co-parents can work together to pay for both residences while one or the other builds up enough savings to buy/rent another place later.
  • Social stigma – Socially challenged kids are often uncomfortable telling friends about their new living arrangement. They may not have wanted to share their parents’ divorce just yet but are forced to do it because they live somewhere else part of the time.

Challenges of Nesting to Protect Children During Divorce

Several authorities believe short-term nesting can be beneficial to children during divorce. The main disadvantage of nesting is that you have to put your freedom on hold to help the family unit. Temporarily, that works. As a long-term arrangement, it may not be practical or even healthy.

Some of the disadvantages can be:

  • Discomfort for parents – Just having to deal with another bedroom every other week is difficult. If your nesting plan is to stay at one or more relatives’ homes, you’ve widened the scope of potential inconveniences.
  • Financial – If you already have money problems, this may add to the crisis.  Nesting usually requires collective money management to succeed.
  • Friends and lovers – You may think sharing an apartment and a home with your ex is okay, but how will you feel about his or her new best friend? Finding a stranger’s belonging in the home can cause hurt and anger.
  • Parents may be faced with the same problems that contributed to the divorce – Every time you return to the family residence, you’ll be dealing with many of the same issues, just like you did before the divorce. That’s a deal-breaker for many co-parents.
  • Scheduling must be micro-managed – Almost constant communication – effective, non-confrontational communication – must occur. You don’t get to pick the days you’re too tired or upset to deal with family scheduling.

Collaborative Divorce is Family-First

The best option for Arizona co-parents to protect children during a divorce is to follow a divorce model that encourages respect and effective conflict resolution. The collaborative divorce process can help you work through difficult decisions. If you choose nesting as an option to protect the children during divorce, the team of professionals can support you through the process.

Contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices to learn more about protecting kids during a divorce.