The concept of nesting is to have the children remain in the marital home with whichever parent is scheduled to be with them according to the parenting schedule.  Due to the high cost of renting or purchasing a new home, parents who wish to divorce or separate may opt to continue to maintain the marital residence for the children and delay renting or purchasing a new residence large enough to accommodate the children until they are in a financially better position to do so. 

Where does the parent who is not scheduled to be with the children reside?  There are several options.  For example, a parent may stay in a separate area of the home such as a basement apartment, a parent may stay with their parents or friends. Sometimes the spouse may opt to rent a small apartment when either is not to be with the children.  The choice to nest is not only financially but also psychologically beneficial to the children as they are not being moved from one home to another and will have the opportunity to ease into the transition of being with each parent separately.  There are several other factors to consider if you wish to nest.

Financial Issues Related to Nesting

How the bills will be paid during the nesting period is necessary to work out to avoid financial conflict. It’s helpful to make a list of the typical household expenses, such as the mortgage, rent, utilities, food clothing, car insurance, extracurricular activities for the children, and discretionary expenses such as vacations, gifts, and entertainment.  Once this is sorted out, a separate account to deposit income and pay for household expenses can be established.  It may also be helpful for each spouse to have a separate credit card to track expenses.  A decision can also be made to continue to pay household expenses as has been done in the past until the nesting period ends.

Another option is for the higher-income spouse to give the lower-income spouse a fixed amount of money each month to spend on designated expenses.  This may help the lower-income spouse with budgeting and give each spouse a better idea of what the costs may be once they live separately. 

Caring For The House While Nesting

To avoid conflict, spouses may want to spell out which spouse will be responsible for certain chores around the house. For example, one spouse may be responsible for maintaining the outside of the property and doing minor repairs around the house, while the other spouse may be responsible for cleaning the house and buying supplies for the house. Or the chores and responsibilities can be shared equally. Major repairs are a separate issue that will be addressed in the separation or divorce agreement.

What responsibilities each parent will have when they are scheduled to be with the children should also be spelled out. Some examples are:

  1. Each parent will leave the house clean for the other parent. If necessary, if one parent cannot keep the house clean, they will hire a cleaning service at their expense.
  2. Each parent will do their laundry and the children’s laundry while they are with the children.
  3.  The spouse who is not scheduled to be with the children either stays in a separate area of the house and uses a separate entrance or leaves the house during the other parent’s scheduled parenting time.
  4. The parent who is scheduled to be with the children shall be responsible for getting them to their respective activities unless otherwise agreed to by the other parent.
  5. The parent who is scheduled to be with the children will be responsible for making sure the children do their homework.

If the spouses are sharing an apartment where each will stay while they are not in the marital home, similar financial and house rules need to be worked out.

How Long Will The Nesting Period Last and What If One Parent Wants To End It Sooner

During the mediation or collaborative divorce process, the parties will come to an agreement on a time frame for how long the nesting period will last.  Financial and emotional factors will impact this decision.  It may be that the spouses agree to nest for a period of time and then will agree to a longer period, but only by mutual agreement. The separation or divorce agreement may call for the house to be either sold once the nesting period ends, or for one spouse to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the house, or to keep the house for the children for several years with one spouse having exclusive use and possession of the house.  Whatever the case may be once the spouses are living separately child support and/or spousal support and any other financial arrangements with respect to the house will commence, unless another arrangement is agreed to. 

Leading Independent Lives

One of the more sensitive aspects of agreeing to a nesting arrangement is the ability of each spouse to go on with their separate lives.  Although it can be a difficult and awkward discussion, rules need to be set regarding significant others.  If one spouse is living in a separate area of the house, will the other spouse be upset if they bring someone over?  What about bringing someone over to an apartment that you share?   Both spouses need to be respectful of the other spouse’s feelings to make the nesting period as smooth a transition as possible. To obtain more information about the mediation or collaborative process, please contact us at 516-749-5017 or contact us online.  We will be happy to answer any additional questions or concerns you may have.

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