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Nesting: A unique custody arrangement that focuses on the kids

Divorce challenges children. Child custody arrangements never feel the same as living with two married parents. Children often feel uprooted and question where they belong.

Rather than having one bedroom, they have two. Rather than having one set of toys, they have two. Rather than having one peer group in one neighborhood, they have two.

It is jarring. While Mom and Dad may quickly adapt to living in different homes, they stay in those homes 100 percent of the time. The children hop back and forth, so they are the ones forced to adjust.

If you think this transition will be tough on the children, you may want to consider a relatively new tactic that offers a unique solution. It is called nesting.

One home

The general idea behind nesting is that the children have one home. This can even be the family home from before the divorce. They keep their same neighbors, bedrooms, toys and everything else. They do not have to move. They feel comfortable in their surroundings. Everything is familiar. They feel secure.

To split up child custody, the parents just move in and out of that family home. If it is your week with the children, you move in. When it is your ex’s week, you move out and he or she moves in. It goes back and forth like this until the children head off to college.

Time may not get split up as perfectly as that, depending on outside forces, but nesting is flexible. You can adapt it to your needs.

For instance, one couple got divorced and then the father had to move to another state. He still wanted to stay involved. To keep things simple, the kids lived with their mother every week, in the same home. Each weekend, their father got on a plane and flew in to visit them. Their mother then moved out for the weekend, their father lived in the house, and they traded back when he headed for the airport before the next work week.

Parental cooperation

Of course, this arrangement does come with challenges. Strict cooperation is a must. Parents have to work together and put their kids first. They need to have at least one place where the parent who is not living in the home can stay on the off weeks. They need to stick to the schedule and abide by the rules of the child custody agreement.

Certainly, with the costs and the logistics, this plan is not for everyone. However, it does show you how unique plans can often provide options you never considered before. Make sure you carefully consider all of your options and your legal rights while going through a divorce.