The Family Nest - Family Matters Mediators and Counsellors

January 9, 2020

There is a relatively new trend in post separation residential arrangements called “Bird Nesting” or simply just “Nesting”. Whatever name you choose to call it- they both mean the same thing.

Typically; when parents separate, they each move into their own residence, and the children go back and forth to the parent’s home whose parenting time it is. When parents decide to “nest”, a second residence is purchased or rented, and this new residence is shared between the parents. In some cases a secondary residence is not acquired such as in cases where parents stay with friends or relatives during their non parenting time days. The children do not go back and forth to the new residence; rather they reside at the family home 100% of the time. The parent who’s parenting time or access time it is moves into the family home with the kids. When it is the other parent’s parenting time, the parents switch. So in a nutshell, it is the parents that transition residences instead of the children.

As with almost everything in life, this type of residential arrangement has both positive and negative points. Let’s begin with the positive aspects of this arrangement:

Positive things about Nesting:

  • It can be less expensive. The second residence can be a Studio apartment or it may even be a friend’s spare bedroom.
  • A sense of security for the children. Divorce brings many changes. Nesting means that kids can stay in their same neighborhood, they can attend their same schools, and so forth. The lack of changes may help them to adjust to their new circumstances a little easier.
  • Some children with special needs have difficulty with transitions. The nesting arrangement can lessen the stress for kids with these characteristics.
  • The children’s favorite toys and other items do not get lost or misplaced as commonly. Homework does not get forgotten at the “other house” either.
  • Nesting means not having to sell the house immediately. This can reduce people’s stress in times such as when the housing market is not at its highest.
  • Selling a home is stressful. Delaying its sale allows parents to make decisions at a future time when things are not as stressful. Making rushed and pressured decisions do not usually result in well thought out outcomes.

Conversely, here are some negative points to consider:

  • Nesting can be confusing to children by giving them false senses of hope that their parents will reconcile.
  • Nesting can lead to new disagreements. Let’s say the roof begins to leak or the property taxes come due. How will these expenses be shared?
  • Petty arguments can lead to blow outs. What happens when one parent finishes the butter and forgets to replenish it?
  • Nesting can add to financial stress. Will either parent need the equity from the home to live on?
  • Privacy issues will most likely arise. Separation typically means that parties move ahead in their lives separate from one another.
  • New partners and love interests. What will your dating life look like if you are in a nesting relationship? Will your new partner be comfortable visiting a home that you still share with your ex spouse?

As you can see, Nesting has both its benefits and its disadvantages. Ultimately though, each family is unique, and family’s need to do what they feel is best for their own individual circumstances