Divorce isn’t easy on anyone. When you are getting divorced with children, trying to minimize the amount of change and disruption can be overwhelming. Children will often have core fears and concerns which may include:
· What will happen to me?
· Where will we live?
· Who will be in my family now?
Trying to figure out where to live, who is moving out, how to split your household goods and having your children see their home being dismantled can be traumatizing. Then comes the more arduous task of creating a parenting/custody arrangement that is meaningful for everyone. Reducing the amount of change and disruption will be easier on everyone involved. If you and your ex-partner have a reasonably amicable relationship, one option that you may consider during separation is “nesting”.
Nesting is where the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns coming in and out according to the parenting schedule. Think of it as the kids have custody of the parents who come home and then go to the other house! Nesting is not for everyone and is fraught with difficulties, but when the situation works, there are great benefits. Also consider that nesting may not be a permanent solution but may help during the early months of the separation to reduce the amount of change that is happening at once.
Here is a short list of things to consider:
1. Being very clear on who has time at the family home will be important. There should be no unexpected drop by visits or requests for the other parent to come manage things in the home during their off time. If you are the parent that is scheduled to be in the family home, you are on duty – if you aren’t…you are off duty!
2. Will you have a small apartment as the second home or will each of you find your own place to be when you are not at the family home? Budget may very well determine what you can arrange. If you are sharing the second home, what are the guidelines for privacy and use of that space? Will you share anything above rent? Can you entertain in this space? Will you share a bedroom or will you get a two bedroom for privacy purposes?
3. If you couldn’t change/influence your partner when you were together, you have even less ability to do so now. Do you feel that you LIKE this person enough to continue sharing these responsibilities?
4. Be sure that clear agreements are in place ahead of time. How will the basics of the family home be managed? How are groceries and basic needs taken care of? Is all food in the house fair game or are each
of you responsible for the cost of “life” when you are on duty? How are hand-offs and situations relayed to each other so that there are no major disruptions as the parents switch roles?
5. Will you bring the children to the other house? It will be important for the children to know that you are safe and happy when you are away from the house. Even if the other home is small and sparse, seeing pictures of themselves will make the children feel comforted.
6. How long are you planning on nesting? Nesting can be a viable option during the separation process. However, it can be quite complicated once the parents move onto other relationships. At some point, the nesting arrangement won’t work for the parents. Going into a nesting relationship with shorter term agreements will allow for the type of flexibility needed to grow through separation.
7. How will you know this is working? It is recommended to schedule review meetings to discuss how to refine the arrangement once it is set up. Being able to resolve concerns and challenges is what will make nesting work for all parties.
If you are considering nesting as an option for managing your parenting arrangement during separation, be sure to be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t manage. While nesting can be a wonderful way to ease your family through transition, it can also add to the complications if not done well.
If you would like to talk more about separation/divorce, parenting or the nesting option, contact Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org.