Before baby birds can fly on their own, their parents fly in and out of the nest while the babies wait for the parents to return and feed them. Many parents going through a divorce choose to follow this “bird’s nest” model, allowing the children to stay in their home while the parents move in and out. In some cases, parents share an apartment that one parent can stay in while the other cares for the children in the home. Perhaps Mom stays in the marital home for a week while Dad lives in the apartment with the two switching places the following week.
Nesting provides the children with stability and allows them to get used to the idea of a divorce. It can reduce the costs of two residences, since a one-bedroom apartment will suffice, and reduces chaos for the children. While this plan is often a good idea for the short term, once parents start using this kind of schedule some significant problems may arise. As a long-term plan, it can be difficult to sustain.
A divorce is a time for both parents to move on but moving on can be difficult if the parents are required to share two homes while they try to separate their lives. Bills now need to be paid at two homes. Two homes need to be kept clean. Two homes need to be stocked and taken care of.
If one spouse couldn’t stand the other’s slobby behavior, that problem will only be exacerbated when they share a small apartment. How will one spouse feel about sharing living arrangements with someone who brings dates into their new space? Privacy also will be at a premium when two people are leaving their papers, personal items, mail, etc. in the same homes.
Children need to know that their parents are moving into a new relationship as ex-spouses. Making that transition is especially difficult when those parents are not in two separate homes. Nesting requires mutual trust, something frequently in short supply at the time of the divorce.
If you are thinking of nesting, you should discuss your plan with your attorney to explore in detail the pros and cons of this arrangement. Make sure you plan for how the two homes will be taken care of and how the pantry and refrigerator will be stocked. You need to understand the limitations of privacy and how you and your spouse will respect each other’s rights.