Softening the Blow to Children Amid Divorce

Nesting takes a little finesse on the part of mom and dad, but the kids get to stay put.

If divorcing in a chaotic wild west style is on one end of the spectrum and divorcing like you’re having a congenial kumbaya and séance is on the other end of the spectrum, “Nesting” is the kumbaya séance. 

Nesting is a custody arrangement in which each parent is in the marital residence with the children, exclusive of the other parent, during his or her designated parenting time. 

During your parenting time, you’re with the children in the marital residence and the other parent goes to another residence – typically a “crash pad” apartment – close to the marital residence that both parents share in alternating fashion during their “off parenting” time. You then go to that other shared apartment when your ex comes back to the marital residence during his or her designated parenting time. 

By alternating which parent is in the marital residence, the children stay put in the marital residence “nest” they are accustomed to rather than going back and forth between both parent’s homes. 

While many nesting situations are 50/50 parenting time splits, it is fluid, and certainly not all are. Some have other parenting time splits, where one parent is clearly the primary “on parent.” 

Parents who choose nesting tend to be very concerned with the impact their separation will have on their children in what is typically demonstrated in self-sacrificial ways. It’s like they are trying to follow a code of rules towards executing as neat and seamless a separation and divorce as humanly possible, even if it will make them more uncomfortable. 

For example, the shared crash pad is typically a bare bones impersonal space where they are careful not to leave personal belongings that their ex could find, because while sharing it, they are divorcing for a reason after all, and want a semblance of privacy from their ex. Further, they are alternating to shield their children from having to do so, because moving physical spaces often is inherently an uprooted way of living. 

Nesting requires a high level of collaboration and cooperation between the parents. 

Litigating parties or parties whose only language and discourse is that of hostility are not candidates for a nesting arrangement. I have yet to have a case where one of my litigating clients was nesting. I would be curious if such a case exists and how it was pulled off.

Nesting is very attractive in the beginning to many couples who come to me for mediation and collaborative divorce before they have a firm footing and understanding of what their post-divorce family will look like. 

They want to nest as a transitional bridge for a one to two-year period to “safely” get the family to the other side – the post-divorce splintered family still trying to salvage whatever wholeness they can project to and for the kids.

It is often an idealistic aspiration. As the parties nest for several months and the separation terms come into clearer focus, the initial enthusiasm for nesting typically starts to fizzle, and most couples end up doing it for a shorter duration than they initially thought they would.

It is a testament that separation and divorce is a process and for those who have a good enough relationship with their ex to have the luxury to keep an open mind and try things, it can be a fluid process, where both parties mutually decide which avenues “fit” them individually and the kids, as they are going through it.

To learn more about nesting and whether it is the right decision for you, contact us at The Law & Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein.

Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324