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Nesting and other approaches to helping children after divorce

Some New Jersey parents who are divorcing might want to consider an arrangement called "nesting" or "birdnesting" to help their children adjust to the separation. In a nesting arrangement, children stay in the family home while each parent takes turns living there. Experts say that nesting can give children a sense of stability, but a successful arrangement requires parents to get along well. They also need to be able to afford at least two homes, the family home and another one they alternate living in when not at the family home. Finally, the arrangement should not last more than a few months.

Experts say arrangements that last longer risk giving children the impression that their parents might get back together. Another danger is that children may become more anxious anticipating what separate homes will be like. Parents may have a higher likelihood of conflict as a result of sharing homes the longer the arrangement continues.

For parents who cannot afford nesting or do not wish to do it for other reasons, there are other ways to make sure children have a stable environment during a divorce. They should avoid changing the child's routine and try to keep household rules consistent. It's also important that a child spends time with extended family on both sides.

Divorce is usually difficult for children and parents, but by negotiating issues such as child custody, visitation and support instead of going to court, parents may help children adjust. Some parents prefer an informal custody/support arrangement, but they should still consider making it legally binding. The advantage of doing so is that there may be legal help if one parent stops paying child support or refuses to allow the other parent access to the children.

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