Is Nesting During Divorce an Option for You?

Do you believe “nesting” is a good option for you and your family?

Nesting During Divorce: Child in-between woman and man who are not happy with each other

The new trend of “nesting” or “bird nesting” is a transitional, or temporary, arrangement where the children stay in the family home while the parents rotate on- and off-duty by agreement on a prearranged schedule.

In addition to the schedule, a nesting plan will include agreements about the care of the house, finances, communication, parenting, and dating. The nesting period might be short-term, many months, or longer. It helps parents establish a secure foundation of support for their children.

Nesting During Divorce

Nesting during divorce stabilizes the family during the tumultuous time of separation or divorce. Parents also learn and develop important new skills that they will need in their roles as co-parents, and while “solo parenting.”

When parents are considering separation or divorce, their biggest worry is most often about the children. Today’s parents are increasingly determined to protect their kids from the potential damage that a high-conflict divorce may cause.

The best parents are willing to set aside their own anger, sadness, fear, or guilt to make a “safe nest” for their children. Fortunately, there is an alternative to the old-school “broken home.” New approaches such as “conscious uncoupling” and collaborative divorce give us hope that divorce can be respectful and keep the family’s welfare in focus.

In my work as a psychologist and divorce coach, nesting during divorce has helped many of my clients navigate the tumultuous process. I continue to promote the advantages of nesting since my own nesting experience in 1994, when no one had heard of nesting yet.

Nesting during divorce or separation can give you time to figure out the future of your relationship. You may decide to reconcile after respite from the conflict in the marriage. You may move ahead with the divorce, making decisions that will impact you and your family. Nesting allows you to pace this process to keep you and your children stable.

Nesting During Divorce Isn’t for Everyone

First, you must decide whether nesting makes sense for you and your family. If you think that it is, there are important steps to create a safe and secure home – or nest – for your children, thereby preserving a secure sense of family while you figure out your next steps.

Nesting is not a cookie-cutter approach. You’ll need to create a nesting agreement unique to your situation. Your agreement should reduce the conflict between you and your spouse. It should also reduce the stress for the children. Nesting sets the stage for a cooperative and reasonable divorce process, avoiding court. It also prepares everyone for a new “family under two roofs.”

It can be hard to move in and out of the family home, and nesting parents experience first-hand what their children may experience when they later live in their parents’ two homes.

Nesting During Divorce Could Be an Option for You If:

  1. Both of you are willing to develop – perhaps with help from a therapist – a detailed and structured nesting plan that spells out predictable issues and how they will be resolved. 
  2. The two of you have reasonably good communication, some mutual respect, and trust, and you are willing to work on strengthening these, which requires a commitment by both parents.
  3. You can minimize conflict by handling your emotions outside the home without involving the children.
  4. You and your spouse can make and keep agreements.

Nesting During Divorce Probably Isn’t a Good Option If:

  1. You and your spouse don’t or can’t agree to set aside your conflict to make it work.
  2. You and your spouse don’t respect each other’s time, property, and parenting approaches.
  3. There has been recent domestic violence or a history of coercive control in the marriage.
  4. Either of you has untreated drug abuse or alcohol abuse.

Next Steps

Do you believe nesting is a good option for you and your family? If so, I recommend that you meet with someone who can coach you through the steps of creating a nesting plan. The plan will address your living arrangement options, schedule, finances, and parenting. It should also address predictable issues such as when nesting will end and what to do when one of you enters a new relationship.

The pain of a failed nesting plan can disappoint and hurt the kids and the family. That is why it is so important to consider carefully whether nesting during divorce is appropriate for your situation.

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