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New custody trend has many rethinking traditional arrangements

The divorce has been hard on you, and you can only imagine the difficulties your children are having. They may not be able to put into words their emotions and confusion over the drastic changes taking place, and you know there may be many years of confusion ahead if you and your soon-to-be former spouse don't find a fair way to resolve the custody question.

You and your co-parent may be trying to overcome your own emotions to work out a custody arrangement that will be as stress-free as possible for the little ones. However, the best you can do is to divide time between one parent and the other, between one house and the other, packing the children up every week and sending them off to their other parent's home. It may interest you to know that some families have come up with another alternative.

Is nesting right for your family?

Nesting is the term used for a recent trend in custody arrangements. In nesting, the children remain in the family home. It is you and your former spouse who pack up and go. According to an agreed-upon schedule, you and your former spouse take turns staying in the family home, caring for the children and creating as little disruption to their lives as possible.

Many families find this works well, at least temporarily. The children maintain the stability of living in one home with the same school and neighborhood friends as before. They also have more time to process the changes between their parents without the trauma of having to "visit" one parent who has moved out.

Consider the pros and cons

Of course, the drawbacks may outweigh the benefits in your circumstances, and those negatives include:

  • The cost of maintaining three homes, since you and your spouse will need a place to stay when it's not your turn to be with the children
  • The financial consequences that retaining the home may have on your taxes, property division and spousal support settlements
  • The awkwardness of continuing to share the space after a divorce
  • The disputes that may arise when one spouse does not maintain the home to the standards of the other
  • The disapproval of future love interests who may not appreciate that you still technically live with your ex

Some psychologists also feel that maintaining the family home in this way may give the children false hope of a reunion between you and your spouse. This may hinder the children's progression through the stages of grief that naturally following the divorce of parents. Additionally, you may also find it difficult to move on emotionally while sharing something as intimate as the family home.

Parents who travel for their jobs have found that nesting works especially well for them, and it may be an alternative for your family to consider. However, even if it isn't something your family can do, it may be helpful to know that many families in Washington are able to reach custody arrangements that work well for them and for their children.

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