Is Co-Parenting and Nesting Right for You?

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Having children is a blessing, but when a couple decides to separate or divorce, they can become a source of contention if the parents are not able to amicably work through their separation.

How can we do this?

One of the most common questions family law attorneys are asked is “How can two parents share time with their kids when they are no longer living in the same household?”  A “parenting plan” refers to a child custody plan that is negotiated between parents after they separate or divorce. Tensions surrounding parenting plans may increase even when both parents prioritize the needs of their children which is why it is important for parents to remain flexible, responsive and practical when developing a parent plan that works for them and their family.

In the past, parents have used traditional custodial schedules for sharing time with their children. For example, a 3-4-4-3 custody schedule would allow a child to spend 3 days with one parent in his/her home, 4 days with other parent, 4 days with the first parent and then 3 days with the other parent. A 2-2-5-5 schedules allows children to spend 2 days with each parent and then 5 days each parent. A week on/week off schedule provides for a child to spend a week with one parent and a week with the other.

The Nesting Option

Many families enjoy using these standard custodial schedules but some find that they do not like having their child move from one home to another and would prefer that the children remain in one home while the parents rotate in and out of the “family home.” This custodial arrangement is commonly referred to as “nesting.”

Nesting is an option that some parents consider as a transitional parenting arrangement because they want to keep the children’s living arrangements in place for a period during or right after a separation or divorce. Nesting’s benefits include maintaining consistency for children in that they can remain in the family home without going back and forth between their parents’ homes.

However, nesting adds some additional complications because certain ground rules must be made since both parents will be sharing the family home and possibly a second home. For example:

  • Which areas of each home will be designated to each parent?
  • What is the cleaning schedule for each home?
  • Can we afford the added expense of having possibly three homes – a family home, and a separate home for each parent to live in when they are not with the kids.

Consider it a Temporary Solution

Therefore, it is important to consider a default date for the nesting phase to end in order to effectively move forward after a divorce. Nesting is typically considered a short-term solution to ease the transition of divorce for children and is probably not the best long-term solution for many parents.


Candice Saadian Costa has dedicated her entire legal career (since 2007) to working with families in high-conflict situations.