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Nesting as an alternative to traditional joint custody

Arizona parents who would like to share custody of their children after a divorce but who are concerned about the potentially destabilizing effect on the children of moving between homes might want to consider nesting. This refers to an arrangement in which the parents and not the children rotate in and out of the family home.

There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with this arrangement. Children are able to settle into a routine during a time of upheaval. Parents have the opportunity to experience the difficulties of moving between households that children do in more traditional custody arrangements. However, finances and housework may all be potential areas of conflict. While seeing parents cooperate in co-parenting can be good for children, the arrangement may also make it difficult for them to accept the finality of the divorce.

Nesting is usually best done for a limited amount of time with a transition plan for when the arrangement changes. Two parents who spent 18 months doing this reported that they felt the adjustment time had been valuable for their children. Their arrangement changed after one parent became involved with a new partner.

Parents who are unable to cooperate enough to work out a nesting plan may still want to share custody of their children. Joint physical custody is possible even for parents who have a lot of conflict. One way to approach this arrangement is by agreeing to keep the conflict away from the children and communicate only in limited and necessary ways, such as about drop offs and pickups. Parents can also address concerns in a parenting agreement. For example, they might include a list of certain rules for children that are supposed to be consistent in both households.

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