Should I Consider a Nesting Agreement for Parenting Time?

When parents physically separate, it is stressful in itself for both the father and the mother, and most especially for their children. Other than the stress of the decision to change the family structure, there is more stress involved in finding one or possibly two new homes and determining when the children will be traveling between each parent and what furniture, clothing, and toys will stay where. Michigan is a big state and sometimes parents move further away from each other than the kids would prefer. While those decisions will eventually need to be made, some choose to delay and make those decisions on their own time by creating a nesting agreement


What Exactly is Nesting?

Nesting is honestly a simple subject but implementing it might not be as easy. This growing parenting plan means that instead of the children moving between each parent’s home, the children stay put in one house and it is the parents who move in and out of the family home. The kids stay put and the parents are the ones that are inconvenienced and do the moving. It’s a selfless act for the kids. A nesting agreement is an option worth considering to introduce children to a split household environment as a result of divorce or separation. The agreement works with custody agreements as one parent moves into the home for their time, and then leaves when it is the other parent’s time.  

What are the Benefits of Nesting?

Nesting can be extremely beneficial for children’s stability. They can stay in the same routine and keep all of their possessions in a familiar place where they are settled and comfortable. Michigan law presumes that normally, stability and consistency are good for children. Nesting gives children time to understand and accept a divorce or other situation where their parents will no longer be living together. The beginning of a life with separated parents can be very stressful for children of all ages, and keeping them stable in their family home gives them one less item to be worried about. It creates a more gradual and hopefully easier transition into traveling between two homes with their possessions. 

The other evident advantage to nesting is financial. Divorce can be an expensive process. Two separate homes, each large enough to be appropriate for one adult and the children, can be a financial strain for anyone. This may lead to a separating couple looking to save money in the divorce process. Nesting can give time to get finances around to obtain a new home or small apartment suitable for one parent, or potentially to sell the larger family home and buy two new smaller homes. 

That Sounds Enticing, but What are the Downsides? 

Remember that nesting is often considered to be a temporary measure. Sticking with nesting too long can make it difficult for separating parents to find their independence. Occupying the same space after a separation can make it hard to see yourself as a different person than you were before the separation. That is not to say that long-term nesting is not possible for some, but most find it only to be a temporary fix. A nesting agreement need not specify the length of time the parents will be using it, but it certainly can be for a set amount of time. Here in the Lansing area, which includes Eaton County, Jackson County, and Clinton County, we see most nesting plans beginning with an agreement for one to two years. Keep in mind that the parents are always free to modify their agreement if they both agree to do that. 

When children are very young, separation can be very scary and confusing. Nesting plans while children are younger can give the impression that there has been no change and can lead to them being even more confused. It can also be confusing to older children as nesting can lead them to believe reconciliation is possible. Studies show that nearly all children of divorce couples hope their parents will reconcile. In fact, that thought can even continue into adulthood. 

Couples who are separating in a bad place or have bad communication patterns may struggle with a nesting arrangement. Nesting requires a mutual understanding between the two parties and must have constant communication and common ground. Naturally, a couple chooses to separate for a reason, and continuing to communicate with the other parent and occupy the same space at different times can cause even more strain. Much depends on the parents themselves and their commitment to putting aside their own feelings in favor of doing what is easiest for the children. 

This Would Be a Good Idea for My Family, What Do I Do Next?

It is important that a nesting agreement be in writing and describe the parameters of the agreement. The best option is to seek the input of your divorce attorney since they can help you with nesting agreements and whatever else may come along when you are looking to separate. 

When selecting an attorney to help you through a divorce, it is important to have an experienced and trustworthy attorney by your side. The Kronzek Firm has helped hundreds of clients over the decades to navigate the lengthy and confusing divorce process in mid-Michigan and our Lansing-based attorneys are ready to help you. We are available 24/7 at (517) 886-1000.