Some North Carolina parents who are getting a divorce may find that an arrangement known as “nesting” suits them and their children. Nesting means that parents share custody, but instead of the children shuttling back and forth between the parents’ home, the children remain in the family home while the parents rotate in and out. This helps eliminate the instability that comes from moving between parents’ homes every few days.
One couple who followed this arrangement for 18 months rented a small apartment nearby and switched off weekly. Eventually, when one parent found a new partner, the arrangement became impractical and they changed to a more traditional kind of joint custody in which the children moved between their two homes. However, the parents said they felt that their own experiences with moving back and forth between homes helped them better understand the challenges their children would face. They also said they felt the period of stability helped with their children’s adjustment.
Nesting is not appropriate in all circumstances. Parents must be able to maintain an amicable relationship. A divorce might start off amicably but turn contentious as financial matters come into play. Usually, nesting works best as a temporary arrangement with a plan for how the custody arrangement will shift when the nesting period comes to an end.
There may be other ways that nesting could be advantageous as well. For parents who own a home together, immediately selling it or having one parent buy out the other and live in the house might not be practical. Nesting may provide an opportunity for both an emotional and a financial transition. Whether or not parents have a nesting arrangement, an effective parenting agreement may also be an important element of sharing custody after a divorce.