When you and your spouse realize that you need to divorce, it can be a difficult concept for your children. Many times, children may believe that they played some role in the end of their parents' marriage. The more contentious the divorce, the harder it can become for your kids. After all, it can be damaging to have to decide which parent they want to live with or testify about the wrongdoings of one or both parents. It can also damage their relationships with their parents to listen to fights or sit through angry testimony about each parent's worst behavior during the marriage.
For couples who are able to work together and compromise, "nesting" or "bird's nest" co-parenting can be an excellent option. When a divorced couple agrees to try nesting, they are agreeing to continue cohabitating until the children are old enough to live on their own. This can make a lot of things simpler, like ensuring there is child care and reducing friction about holidays and other times when visitation or co-parenting schedules become complicated. It can also ensure that there are no financial issues caused by needing to sell your marital home and then maintain two homes after the divorce.
Firm boundaries are necessary for nesting to work
In order for you and your former spouse to make co-habitation work after divorce, you need to set limits and boundaries. Putting rules in place about space, time and privacy are critical to maintaining a positive and functional relationship. Each parent should have time away, so scheduling weekends, like with traditional shared custody arrangements, is ideal. Additionally, you may still need to negotiate certain days, such as a Christmas trip to visit your extended family, to ensure it is fair to everyone.
Although many couples choose to remain in the home where they lived while married, you may want to consider selling that house and purchasing a new one. Having separate living quarters, like an in-laws' apartment, pool house or finished basement can help make cohabitation simpler after a divorce. After all, you got divorced so that you could pursue your future, not continue to share a bed with your ex. Having your own space and privacy are key to making a nesting arrangement work.
Hope for the best but plan for the worst
If nesting is part of your mediation agreement or divorce decree, it's important to also include a contingency plan if your attempt at nesting fails. While you want to give it your best effort, you should also ensure that you (and your children) are financially protected if nesting simply doesn't work out for your family.