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Is “Nesting” a Viable Post-Divorce Child Custody Option in California?

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

Los Gatos divorce and child custody lawyerMany divorced couples want to co-parent their children in a joint physical custody arrangement but struggle with the amount of coordination it requires. 50/50 parenting time schedules can be hard on the children, too, as they have to move between their parents’ houses regularly. To address this, some parents have opted for a “nesting” arrangement, wherein the children stay in a single home and the parents rotate in and out.

The Pros and Cons of Nesting in California 

Some of the benefits of a nesting arrangement include:

  • Children have the stability of one place to eat, sleep, and play. This can be most beneficial during the early stages of a divorce.
  • Parents save back-and-forth trips for needed items. When a child frequently changes houses, it is too easy to forget or run out of something they need.
  • Only one set of childcare paraphernalia is needed, and it gets to stay in one place. This is especially beneficial during a child’s infant and toddler years. Maintaining two sets of everything--cribs, high chairs, special toys and blankets, special food and bottles, etc.--is costly. 
  • When parents live far apart, it can be easier for the parents to travel to the nesting house than to shift the children back and forth, especially when one parent has the flexibility to work remotely. When the children stay in the nest, parents avoid having to drive or fly the children back and forth or having the children travel unaccompanied.

Nesting can also be problematic in several ways:

  • The parents have to be able to agree on some basic house rules. If one parent tends to leaves the house a mess and the fridge empty when they leave, the other parent is inconvenienced, and the house can become a battleground.
  • Cost can be an issue. The parents not only have to maintain the “nest” house, but also separate homes of their own. 
  • Some psychologists believe that a shared nesting house could prevent both children and parents from fully adjusting to and accepting the divorce.
  • When divorced parents enter into new relationships or marriages, the new partners or spouses may be uncomfortable with the intimacy of the shared house. 

Does California Allow Nesting?

The California Family Code declares that the court’s primary concern when making custody and visitation decisions shall be the best interests of the children. It goes on to say that the public policy of the state is to “assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents” after a divorce and to “encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing.” 

Nesting may not be a good option for some families, but it can be a great solution for others. When a couple is trying to negotiate a post-divorce parenting plan, nesting is certainly an option worth considering. A divorce mediator may even suggest that divorcing spouses discuss the pros and cons of nesting as one way to get the couple to open up about their parenting concerns and priorities. If the parents agree that nesting is in the best interests of the children, a California court can be expected to agree.

Consult a Los Gatos Divorce Mediation Lawyer 

An experienced Los Gatos, CA divorce and family law attorney can help you ensure that your children’s best interests are protected as you determine your child custody arrangements in your divorce case. Attorney Benita Ventresca has helped many families with children through the process of divorce. Call the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca at 408-395-8822 for a free initial consultation.


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