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What Is "Nesting" Or "Bird's Nest" Custody?

Is nesting, or bird's nest custody, the right option for you? Before you can answer that, you probably need to have a clear understanding of what it entails.

Nesting is a type of custody and post-divorce living arrangement that isn't new but is also not very common. It is steadily rising in popularity as parents continue to find ways to put their children's needs first following life-changing events like divorce.

How It Works

In a nesting arrangement, the children essentially are given the house in the divorce. The children remain in their home, while the parents move in and out during the periods that would be considered their parenting time or "on duty" time. Instead of shuffling the children back and forth between their parents' houses, this custody option provides stability and ease for the children during a tumultuous time.

The parents may each have individual separate residences where they stay when they are not living at the family home, or they may share one residence with their former spouse. Some even opt to live in separate parts of the family home during off-duty time. But is nesting right for you?

Why It Works

The positive aspects are almost entirely directed toward your children. This option is for parents who can truly put the needs of their children above their own. It's an incredibly child-centered method, allowing the children to remain in their home, their school and their neighborhood. It means they don't have to worry about complicated schedules of being shuttled to and from their parents' homes.

If you and your spouse split time between the family home and a second residence, it may actually be less expensive than selling the family home and then trying to establish two separate residences that are conducive to children. In these situations, since the second residence doesn't need the space for children, it could be a significantly smaller space which could end up costing less.

Ultimately, this is a great option if you are able to communicate positively with your ex and you want to eliminate as much stress as possible on your children.

Why It Doesn't Work

There are plenty of reasons why nesting arrangements aren't more common. While putting your children's needs first is always your priority, it's difficult to continue to deal with an ex-spouse as closely as this living arrangement requires. It is going above and beyond successful co-parenting, and it requires a lot more work.

You will get a taste of what your children experience when they are being shuffled between your home and your spouses, and it's not easy. Sometimes children may be more adaptable than you or your spouse can be at this point in your lives.

If you and your ex would need to maintain the family home and two separate residences, it could be financially impossible. Even if it is possible, it could add a level of financial stress to your life that will end up taking a toll on your children. If they end up feeling the stress and complexity of the nesting arrangement, everything you are trying to do may be for naught.

It can also be downright awkward. You are still dealing with household expenses and duties with a person you decided you didn't want to be married to anymore. It's hard to still essentially be sharing the same space as them even if they aren't there at the same time. When you start dating, that adds another level of complication.

Lastly, if you can't communicate well with your ex, or you still have residual anger or bad feelings, this scenario is not going to be successful.

But if you are in the fortunate position to be able to afford this option and have the type of relationship with your ex-spouse that would be favorable for nesting, your children may thank you.

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