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Nesting: An Alternative Placement Arrangement

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When most think of divorced families with children, they think of the children being shuffled to and from one parent’s house to the other. But there is another option–nesting arrangements. A nesting arrangement is when the children stay in the familial home and the parents rotate in and out depending on their placement schedule.

A Creative Divorce Living Arrangement

Nesting arrangements are custody agreements that provide parents with a creative living solution that could benefit the transition period between the start of the divorce process and the point where the parents are moving out and finding their own places to live. 

The goal is to maintain stability for the child or children by preventing them from having to live in multiple households. This arrangement is named after birds who leave their babies in the nest while they come and go to gather food.

There are also variations to this arrangement. For example, the parents may remain in the house but live in separate bedrooms. Another variation is that the parents own an apartment that they alternate usage based on the placement schedule.

Nesting and Short-Term Success

Unfortunately, nesting arrangements have not had long-term success. Nesting arrangements depend largely on the parents’ resources, cooperation, and physical locations. Financially, it requires mortgage payment on the homestead, if applicable, along with rent for another apartment, or continuous and repeated hotel fees. For the parents, despite ending the relationship, must continue to share a household, even though not at the same time. Furthermore, it prevents a parent from maintaining independence from their ex-spouse after a divorce, such as if they wish to date again. If a parent does wish to date again, that can lead to tension and arguments in the homestead.

Nesting is more commonly used as a temporary arrangement in the early stages of separation before the divorce is finalized. For instance, parents may implement a nesting arrangement if there are only a couple months left in the school year or a child is moving out to attend college soon.

Nesting Arrangements Require Detailed Guidelines and Boundaries

With neither of the parents permanently living in the house, basic household duties must be clearly defined. For example, who will feed the pets and when? When will laundry be done, and by who? Who will go grocery shopping, and will those costs be split equally between the parties? The parties must divide the labor, both as parents and temporary heads of the household.

The bottom line: Nesting placement arrangements can work, but they’re a lot of work!

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