Separating and divorcing parents spend much time worrying. They worry about how and when they will separate; they worry if they will have enough money to maintain a semblance of their life before divorce; they worry about dividing assets and paying the bills; yet most of all they worry about their children. Will their children be devastated by the separation? Will their children’s lives be ruined? Will their roles as parents change forever? And, thus for the “sake “of the children, the idea of birds nesting was created. Like the momma and papa birds, whose babies stay in the nest while they, as parents, fly in and out bringing sustenance to the children, came the creation of the children staying in one house. The marital home becomes the “nest” where the children live.
In order to “nest,” the parents need to determine where each one will live when not staying in the home with the kids. Finances and connections are the keys to the answer. For those who have friends or family nearby, they may decide to stay with them when not with the children. For those without a place to stay, money will determine their flexibility. If there are sufficient funds, each parent may locate a separate residence—even a studio apartment will provide them with privacy when away from the marital home. However, many couples are unable to finance three residences: the marital home and two separate accommodations. Thus, for couples who do not have the connections and/or the funds to live separately, they will need to agree to rent a place where each one will live when not staying in the “children’s home.” Here, too, finances will determine if they can rent an apartment with separate bedrooms, providing each with a private place to store belongings or if they have to share a small apartment.
Once the living arrangements are decided, the parents need to agree on how to schedule each one’s time with the children. For couples with shared custody, a split-week schedule may work, or even alternate weeks.
In concept, nesting is all about the children. The children are not asked to move between parental homes; the children keep their home, their community, and their schools without change. The parents come in and out of the home to provide consistency and stability of oversight and care. The parents need to adjust and to change in order to maintain the parenting schedule. The children’s schedule remains unchanged.
In theory, nesting is a viable alternative for couples, particularly couples with shared custody. Yet, before all separating couples jump on the nesting bandwagon, they need to be aware of some cautionary advice.
Structuring a nesting agreement at the onset requires collaboration and cooperation between the parents. It is important to confront the issues that you think may arise as well as precautionary steps to avoid conflict. The concept is sound; the execution needs to be as thoughtful as your interest in making post-divorce life less stressful for your children. Mediation provides an excellent setting to work together with a skilled and knowledgeable guide to create a nesting arrangement that is forward-thinking and well planned.
A recent discussion among a seasoned group of neutrals about the struggles of the professional mediator caught my attention. Some complained that the trend in litigated cases was to reduce...By Jeffrey Krivis