Going through a divorce is stressful for a couple. Children of divorce also experience significant amounts of stress. This is the case even in an uncontested divorce which is completed in a short period. Children still find that they have to adjust to many changes, which can be difficult.
Children thrive on stability and permanence. Divorce disrupts their sense of stability. They were accustomed to having both parents in their lives and now they only have one parent that is their main caregiver and with whom they live the majority of the time.
Some parents consider ‘nesting’ as a way to help their children make the transition after a divorce.
What is nesting?
Illinois divorce laws allow spouses to determine their own agreements when it comes to child-related issues such as who gets primary custody of the children, the amount of spousal support they should expect as well as parental visitation rights. Issues relating to children in divorce are outlined in a parenting plan. This document is legally binding. Therefore, decisions that are made and documented must be adhered to once the divorce has been finalized.
Divorced parents in Illinois can therefore make a nesting plan. In this type of arrangement, both parents live in separate spaces outside the family home. The children are the only permanent residents of the home during the nesting period. Each parent comes to the home to live with the children for a set time according to a parenting schedule. The parents are never in the home at the same time. Some parents opt to have the same second living space as they are never in this space at the same time either.
In such a scenario, the father may live with the children in the primary family home for a week or two in a month. The mother will live with the children the rest of the time when the father is away.
The pros and cons of nesting
There are several benefits and downsides of nesting. Nesting helps parents focus on their children’s needs as opposed to their own needs. It gives children a greater sense of stability as they can still enjoy time with both parents within the family home. It also gives both parents time to spend with their children and helps children ease into the more permanent parenting plan after the divorce.
However, nesting can be expensive as the parents must have separate living spaces outside the family home. Depending on how long the nesting arrangement is for, it can make it difficult for the parents to move on after divorce and pursue romantic relationships. Nesting can also give children a false sense of hope. They may think that their parents will get back together.
Is nesting right for you?
Are you considering nesting for your family after your divorce is finalized? There are several factors to consider. Can you and your spouse afford a second residence? Who will be responsible for the monthly bills and upkeep of the primary family home? How long would you be able to keep the nesting up?
It is important to talk to your divorce attorney to better understand how nesting works and if it is a good option for your family.