Nesting – During or After Divorce

Needless to say, divorce is extremely difficult for parents and children alike. However, divorce is often times the best decision for a family since growing up in a happy home has proven to be extremely beneficial for children. Deciding that a divorce is the best decision is only the first step. Many couples struggle with co-parenting and finding a pattern on how to raise their children, all while learning to reacclimate as a single person again. A growing option for families that many are unaware of is nesting. Below we outline what nesting is, when it can be a good idea, and tips for a successful nesting experience.

What is Nesting?

Nesting is when parents rotate between living in the family home with the children and another home or apartment while they spend separate time with the children. This means that the children stay in the home they are familiar with while the on-duty parent takes care of them. The parents’ second home can be a shared rental apartment the parents rotate living in, or their own individual apartment, a hotel, or accommodations with friends or family. The goal of nesting is to provide children with a consistent and stable home during or after separation, to reduce conflict among co-parents, and often to provide a lower cost option for living apart.

While many parents claim nesting was best for their children and family, it is not always easy. Good communication, clear guidelines, trust, and respect between the co-parents are essential.

Pros for Nesting

  • A stable environment provides children with more time to adapt to changes in the family. Children can adjust to the idea of their parents not living together without experiencing living in two homes.
  • This stable environment provided by nesting also helps parents adjust to the many changes occurring in their lives.
  • Parents move back and forth between two homes, not the children.
  • It is often easier for parents to track their own items between two homes than all of their children’s items.
  • Nesting can minimize expense. While parents sort out their finances and how to afford two homes in the early stages of divorce, having one home saves money. Also, nesting can help a family conserve financial resources for a period of time in order to increase savings that would allow one parent to afford to lease or purchase another home.
  • Nesting enables parents to fully experience what it is like to have two homes, which often increases their empathy for and patience with their children.

Josh Hoch, Mediator and Director of Mediation Services at MWI, explains when he has seen nesting work successfully after parents reach agreement in mediation. He also offers some tips for success.

When have you seen Nesting work best?

  • Both parents are committed to a creative solution that may work for their co-parenting situation.
  • Good for short term during transitional times. Nesting often ends when one parent wants to establish a new home, perhaps with a significant other. When parents find new significant others they often don’t feel comfortable with them sharing a home.
  • Suitable for older children where there is an end (children moving out) in the near future.
  • Good option for those who cannot afford two homes or are still figuring out how to manage finances.
  • Successful if emotions are under control. Sharing a residence creates many opportunities for parents to trigger one another. This creates a hostile environment that is apparent to children. When there is an amicable relationship with strong communication nesting can be successful.

Josh’s Tips for Success

  • Create rules for both the family home and apartment. Make rules as thorough as possible. Many issues can arise from sharing a space when not living together. Make rules regarding, food, chores and new partners. Some examples include who changes the sheets, who goes food shopping in the home and in the apartment, who does laundry. Consider if the children should see the apartment or not.
  • Create a clear schedule for the rotation.
  • Talk about expectations beforehand to avoid conflict. Nesting works when both parents have strong communication and trust one another to follow those agreements.
  • View nesting as transitional, not permanent. Nesting is most successful when it serves as a stress-relieving and thinking phase that comes before a more permanent separation that will allow more independence for each parent.
  • Have a defined end in site. For example, some of MWI’s divorce mediation clients nest until high school graduation or an agreed upon time span.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Divorce Mediator

For more information about online divorce mediation, contact MWI’s Director of Mediation Services, Josh Hoch at 617-895-4028 or jhoch@mwi.org.

About the Authors

This post was written by Josh Hoch and Abby Connell. Abby is currently a student, trained mediator, and Program Assistant as part of an internship at MWI. For more information about internships at MWI click here.


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