Understanding “Nesting” and How It Works

Even under the most amicable circumstances, getting divorced can be tough—more so if you have children. Even if you think your separation is for the best, your children may not see it that way. It’s not surprising then why research tells us that the best way to protect the well-being of your children during a divorce is to keep the process as low-conflict as possible.

For some parents, the solution that works for them is “nesting,” sometimes called “birdnesting.” 

What Is Nesting?

Nesting is the practice where parents keep the family home intact and rotate living with their children. This also means that both parents take turns living in separate residences when they’re not “at home” with the kids.

The idea behind nesting is that it ensures that the children’s lives continue to be as normal as possible. They don’t have to be uprooted from their home and they still get to spend time with both parents. But while nesting sounds like a great thing on paper, there are serious issues that you should be aware of if you’re considering this arrangement.

Accounting, Property Division, and Spousal and Child Support

Nesting presents potential legal issues. For starters, some states may not consider spouses ‘divorced’ if they engage in the practice of nesting. This, in turn, could throw a wrench in the terms of their property division and child/spousal maintenance orders.

Another problem that may arise from sharing a home in a nesting arrangement is the issue of who owns the property. There’s going to be quite a bit of accounting to be done, including figuring how to share the mortgage and upkeep expenses, deciding who will take the mortgage interest deduction, and deciding tax liability when it’s time to sell the home.

Financial Burden

You also need to consider just how expensive nesting can be. Aside from child support and alimony, you also have to deal with the cost of maintaining two separate residences, which can be too much, even for wealthy families.

It’s for this and other reasons that nesting should only be done on a short-term, transitionary basis. Anything beyond six months will be impractical and may end up confusing the children instead of putting them at ease. It may lead them to believe that reconciliation may happen in the near future.

Only Works If Both Parents Are on Good Terms

Another reason nesting should be done on a short-term basis is because it can create opportunities for the kind of conflict that caused you and your spouse to divorce in the first place. If you can’t agree to set aside your differences and put the children first for a few months, a nesting arrangement will stand on shaky ground.

If you would like to learn more about nesting and whether it’s a realistic option for your family, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the family lawyers of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices at 512.215.5225 to sit down for a discussion with family law, divorce law, and child custody attorney Daniella Lyttle.