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The nesting approach to child custody

Nesting is one way that Minnesota parents who are getting a divorce can share custody of their children with the least amount of disruption to their offspring's lives. With a nesting arrangement, children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living there. This is in contrast to the typical joint custody arrangement in which children move between their parents' homes. While joint custody is increasingly recognized as an arrangement that is good for children and their relationship with both parents, the constant moving can also be destabilizing.

This movement can be particularly disruptive in the first year or two following a divorce. Nesting does have some disadvantages, so one approach might be to set a limited time in which to do it. One couple spent 18 months taking turns sharing a small apartment while their children lived in the family home. When one of them found a new partner, they decided to end the nesting arrangement, but they reported that the children benefited from the stability and were better able to adjust to the divorce.

The arrangement does require that parents be able to cooperate with one another. There could be tension about doing chores or grocery shopping, and a divorce that starts amicably could become tense with financial or other conflicts.

However, parents may still find that they can resolve conflicts like these and continue co-parenting effectively with joint custody. Mediation may also be helpful. If a child custody case goes to court instead of being negotiated between the parents, one thing the judge will look at is the willingness of each parent to cooperate with one another. Parents who appear uncooperative might be less likely to be awarded custody. Effective co-parenting is also usually in the best interests of the child.

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