Ending a marriage may be disruptive for families, especially the children. Moving, for example, can complicate upcoming graduation or completion of their academic year. House sharing is one option that can provide continuity. But couples must plan for this arrangement carefully or it can cause additional discord.
House sharing, also known as nesting, is an arrangement where the couple keeps their home and their children continue to reside there. Typically, parents take turns living at that home. They keep another apartment or residence to go to when the other parent takes their turn at living at the home.
These arrangements usually last for a period such as until a child graduates from high school or completes education or training.
Nesting requires objective consideration, planning and clear rules. Otherwise, it can also add to family discord after divorce.
A typical problem is a parent bringing a new partner or relationship into the shared home. This can be disruptive even if that parent is not staying at the home. For example, the children may discuss this relationship with their other parent or that parent may find intimate belongings such as underwear in the former martial bedroom.
Parents should agree that new partners cannot stay at the marital home and avoid visits.
Both parents must commit to keeping the house clean and performing household chores. Parents need to pick up their clothing, make the bed and leave the house clean for their former spouse. Parents should also agree to share shopping, maintenance and repairs and paying expenses.
Children also must help. They should pick up after themselves, help with the dishes and do other chores.
Nesting may not work. Spouses must have the ability to leave this arrangement.
Parents should agree on how notice will be provided. They will also have to agree on options when this occurs. These include returning to mediation or settlement negotiations, or one spouse receiving a lower equity share of the house after it is sold if they must leave.
Attorneys can assist spouses with developing options that meet a family’s needs. They can pursue a fair and reasonable decree.