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Nesting as a way of helping children adjust to divorce

Maryland parents who are ending their marriage and who are concerned about how a divorce could cause a disruption in their children's lives may want to consider an option known as nesting. With this arrangement, children remain in the family home while parents share custody and take turns living in the home. While this may present a number of challenges, it can also provide children with stability.

Among the potential challenges are disputes over housework, buying groceries and money. There could be a lack of privacy in the arrangement. Furthermore, children may struggle to accept the divorce if their parents are working together so closely. On the other hand, it can be good for them to see their parents cooperating.

One couple rented an apartment near their home that they took turns living in when they were not in the family home. Their arrangement, in which each lived in the house for a week at a time with a Sunday changeover, lasted for 18 months. At that time, they moved to a traditional arrangement in which the children did the traveling rather than the parents. However, they felt the period of time helped stabilize their children after the divorce. They also said that they better understood the difficulties of having to move back and forth between residences that their children would face.

Nesting may be a good solution for parents who are divorcing amicably, but a more traditional joint custody arrangement might work better if there is a lot of conflict between parents. They may still be able to co-parent effectively despite this conflict. There are also situations in which joint custody is not appropriate. One parent might have a problem with substance abuse, for example. Concerns of this nature about the other parent's fitness should be raised at the custody hearing.

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