When people consider divorce, they tend to focus on how it would affect the children, and rightly so. No one wants to make things harder for their kids, and a divorce is stressful for everyone. How can you help your kids understand that you will still be a family after the divorce – just a differently structured one?
There’s an interesting trend going around that promises to reduce the stress on your kids by limiting one of the actual stressors: all the travel between houses. What if, instead of having the kids travel back and forth between your home and your ex’s, you had the kids stay permanently in the marital home and had you and your ex rotating in and out?
This is called “nesting, and it has some interesting pros and cons. Here are some of the benefits:
- The parents, rather than the kids, take on the travel burden associated with parenting time. This shows the kids that their parents are willing to make an effort to spare the kids.
- The children retain the neighborhood and school they are used to, which promotes stability.
- The living environment may be safer for the kids and both parents know where the kids will be at night.
- It eliminates the pressure of coordinating custody exchanges.
- By eliminating time-consuming exchanges, it can increase each parent’s time with the children.
- It can give the parents a way to hold onto the marital home until they can get a better return on the investment.
That all sounds good, but there are issues to consider
One of the biggest issues with parental nesting is the expense. The parents will have to be able to afford their own residence in addition to paying half the cost of the marital home. However, each parent could rent a one-bedroom or studio apartment instead of having to rent something big enough for kids.
Another issue is that it does require some travel, although it is the parents who will do the traveling. If the distance between each residence and your workplace is too great, it could become burdensome.
You’ll need to carefully consider what expenses you intend to share and which ones will be separate. The mortgage and utilities are relatively simple to divvy up. Will you each agree to pay half of the groceries? How about incidentals like birthday party favors or a Christmas tree?
You will also need to decide how long you plan to continue nesting. Will it just be until your kids are accustomed to the divorce? Will you want to sell the house in the next hot market? Or will you both commit to nesting until the youngest child turns 18?
You may want to negotiate a nesting agreement with each parent’s obligations clearly spelled out and a mechanism in place to resolve disputes. Even then, life changes. One parent might need to move away, for example.
Ultimately, nesting will only work if you and your ex can set your differences aside. You will need a lot of patience and mutual respect to make nesting successful.
Are you struggling to decide how your family should operate after the divorce? There are a lot of options to consider. Be sure to work with an attorney who will go the extra mile to set up an agreement that works for you and your kids.