New Jersey parents who are considering ending their marriages and for whom joint custody might be a good solution may want to consider an arrangement called "nesting'. In such a scenario, parents still share physical custody, but the children remain in their home while parents take turns staying in the house for an agreed-upon length of time.
For example, one couple decided that they would spend one week at a time in the house and that Sunday would be the day they switched. They rented an apartment nearby that they shared and continued the arrangement for about 18 months. Although they switched to a more conventional joint custody arrangement when one found a new partner, they said their experience gave them a better idea of what their children faced in going back and forth between households. Furthermore, they felt their children were better adjusted after a year and a half in the family home.
Nesting requires a great deal of cooperation between parents, and there is the potential for conflict over issues such as household chores and finances. Children might react well to seeing their parents get along or may struggle to accept the divorce as a result of that close cooperation. The arrangement could leave parents with little privacy.
In addition to the emotional benefits, nesting might help resolve some property issues as well. It could also be an option that parents choose if they do not want to try to sell their home right away and neither wants to buy the other out. Divorce mediation may help parents make an agreement about how they will handle these types of issues. However, even if nesting is not the right choice, joint custody might still be an option that allows each child time to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents.