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Think carefully about “nesting” as a child custody strategy

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2023 | Child Custody |

If you grew up with divorced parents, you may remember shuttling back and forth between their homes as they shared custody of you. Many children adjust to the idea fairly quickly. For others it can be quite confusing and difficult.

In recent years, an increasing number of parents who have joint custody have been trying a different approach: Instead of having their child shuttle back and forth between two homes, the child stays in one home and the parents take turns living with them. This “nest,” can be in the same home the family shared before the breakup, or it can be in a new

This arrangement is commonly known as “nesting” or “bird nesting.” Its proponents say it minimizes the disruptive effects of a divorce on children’s lives and provides them with a more stable environment.

Downsides of nesting

There are some serious downsides to nesting, as well.

First, and perhaps most obviously, is the cost. It’s expensive enough to go from sharing one family home to two, but nesting means the family must keep three homes: one for the child, and one for each parent.

Nesting can lead to confusion with regard to child support, as well. California courts craft their child support orders based partly on how much time each parent spends living with their child. It may take a little creative thinking to craft an order that fits a nesting situation.

And of course, nesting may be easier on the child in many ways when compared to shuttling between two homes, but it can be logistically and emotionally harder on the parents.

For these and other reasons, some sources recommend nesting only for special situations, such as those involving a child with physical or mental disabilities. Some recommend relying on a nesting situation only for a limited amount of time, such as during the separation period before the divorce is finalized.

Still, if you’re considering nesting as an option, you’re the person who knows your child, yourself and your ex the best, and you are in the best position to decide what is right for your case. Professionals with experience in child custody can help you weigh your options.