Deciding what to do with the marital home is a big issue in divorce cases – especially if you have minor children. Providing continuity for them can help alleviate their stress at a time when it feels like their entire lives are being uprooted. One way to do that is through a “nesting” approach to child custody.

What is it?

With nesting, instead of rotating the children between two different homes, the children stay in the marital home that they’ve always known. It’s the parents who rotate in and out. One might stay with the children on weekdays, for example, while the other “moves back in” for weekends. Or they might take a “week on, week off” schedule. There are countless possibilities.

The pros

Nesting offers many advantages, particularly for the kids. It eliminates the upheavals that come with moving to a new place. With nesting, kids can keep their same rooms, go to the same school, have the same neighborhood friends and enjoy a greater sense of stability. The home is about them. It functions like a birdnest, and it stays a safe place for them.

The cons

There are some downsides to consider, however. The primary disadvantage is financial: Parents must not only pay for their own individual residences, but also for the marital home. Funding a third mortgage (along with the maintenance and other expenses that go along with a home) isn’t financially realistic for many families.

Rotating in and out of the home can also be a major inconvenience – not to mention a breeding ground for disputes. Since parents will be sharing the same space (albeit not at the same time), issues such as organization and cleanliness can become a problem. Only those with a proven ability to co-parent in a civil and respectful manner should consider nesting as an option.