A trend has emerged in which separated and divorced parents are actively collaborating in bringing up their kids. Google “Co-parenting after divorce” and you’ll find several pages of books, articles, websites and blogs, indicating that there is a hot market for how-to advice in this realm, including “conscious uncoupling”, coined by celebs Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin . Some subset of these collaborating parents concluded, as Kathleen and I and our ex-spouses did, that nesting was a sensible co-parenting strategy.

By at least one account, the term “nesting”, or “bird nesting” is defined as “a shared custody arrangement for divorced and separated couples. The children live in one house, while their parents move in and out around them. It is thought to have originated in 2000 in the US, when a Virginia court agreed that the best solution for two young children involved them staying in their family home.”  While it’s hard to find a lot of data on the historical evolution of nesting, it is becoming more common as divorces lead to families with school aged kids living in the same or nearby locales.

In New York State, where we were both divorced, the custody agreement identifies a primary custodial parent (the parent with whom the kids are going to spend most of their time-typically the mother, unless the father was the primary caregiver), and defines what non-custodial parent’s visitation rights are (days per week, start and end times, how vacations and holidays are scheduled, etc). In most of these shared custody agreements, the kids pack up, leave their primary home, and go to the non-custodial parent’s home for selected nights and weekends.

In a Nesting situation, the kids don’t leave their primary residence. The primary custodial parent leaves his/her domicile,  and the non-custodial parent comes in to have a meal with the children, and sometimes moves in for a night or a weekend.