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Nesting: is it as cozy as it sounds?

Nesting has become an increasingly popular alternative to living apart after divorce over the last few years. In fact, Hollywood has given nesting airtime in shows like Splitting Up Together and Blackish. While nesting works for some families, for others, it can contribute to the high tension already created by the divorce process and make the divorce process even harder.

What is nesting? When families are nesting, the children spend all of their time in one home while the parents go back and forth between a different residence or residences. For most families, this means keeping the marital residence, where the children stay, and another home for the parents during their “off time.” While this may seem to make sense financially, it may not always make sense emotionally (either for the children or the parents). Something to think about is that nesters are paying for two residences anyway, so does it really make sense to share both? Or does it make sense to have two separate residences where each parent can have their own space part from their co-parent?

On one hand, nesting can work for some families. The benefits are that the children stay in the home to which they have become accustomed, which can provide a level of stability. There is no packing of suitcases or making sure you have a change of clothes in their backpack on parenting exchange days. Divorce can be a confusing time for children, and staying in the house they have grown up in can alleviate some of the stressors associated with divorce, namely, getting used to calling two different places “home”. It may also reduce parents’ stress, if they know and are familiar with the place where their children will be sleeping every night.

Nesting may make good sense if you have a child or children with any sort of special needs. If there are medications, equipment, or tools that you and your co-parent would otherwise need to either duplicate or pass back-and-forth, nesting might be a good option for your family.

On the other hand, tensions may rise when two divorcing parties share living spaces. People separate, because they generally feel like their lives should not be intertwined any longer. Co-parents may have different levels of cleanliness and tidiness, may stock the fridge with different types of foods, and may prefer different decor. Imagine if one party begins dating again and they want to allow for their new significant other to utilize some space in one of the residences to store their belongings. Co-parents tend to feel like their ex-spouse is overly involved in their life, because no space is truly their own.

Just as airlines advise that adults should always put their safety mask on first, it is important for parents to make sure they are taken care of, so that they can be the best possible parent to their children. It may be just as easy for children to go back and forth between their parent’s homes if each parent is happier and healthier living completely separate and apart from the other. Creating two separate spaces can help parents move on, while nesting may make parents feel stuck to one another, even after their romantic relationship has ended.

The success of nesting depends on each individual family and their unique needs. The divorce and child custody attorneys at GEM family law are highly knowledgeable and care about each individual we represent. The Colorado family law attorneys at GEM can help you consider your options during a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Authored by: Adeline Sulentich, J.D.