Nesting arrangements seem like the trendy thing in custody arrangements especially when considering how to make your children’s lives easier. However, they are not easy and are fraught with challenges.
My current guest, Tina Swithin has two daughters who were two and four years-old when the marriage ended. At that time, Tina had no idea how bad her relationship with her husband would get. She saw them co-parenting and they even started with a nesting arrangement. Here’s Tina:
When we separated in 2009, it was before I realized how bad things were going to be. Back then I thought we were going to have a pretty amicable parting of ways. We had agreed that I would have the girls during the week and then he would come home and have the girls on the weekend.
Things pretty quickly went down the wrong path and there were a lot of concerns on my part with alcoholism. He has a drinking problem and within a few months of separating, I realized that my children were not safe in his care.
It was an on and off problem during our marriage. He is in the business world. He’s very successful however, he has a very addictive personality, which alternates between triathlons and alcohol, which is an odd mixture.
You would think someone who has a passion for something so athletic, that they would be very concerned with health. It’s more about the addiction and when he’s not heavily training, he’s sitting on the couch drinking. It was an issue during our marriage, absolutely, but it became drastically worse once we split.
Pretty quickly into our divorce I had the suspicion that he was actually sneaking out at night and leaving my daughters at home by themselves while they were sleeping. I was never able to prove that but we have pretty strong suspicions that that’s what was happening.
He just started being really irresponsible and hung over a lot and it definitely became an issue.
There were some additional issues on top of drinking with him saying inappropriate things to the children about the divorce. I was trying really hard to keep them sheltered from the reality of what we were going through, because they were so little but he was making comments to them that were inappropriate at their age and just had a lot of anger issues. He started actually stalking me, which then I ended up going from a very nice home and a very nice lifestyle to living in a women’s shelter with my daughters, because I started living in fear of him.
It’s definitely worth considering if a nesting arrangement would work for you but you have to be realistic. With the emphasis being on acting in the children’s best interest, there could be a lot of pressure to agree to this but if the arrangement is going to lead to more friction, then it isn’t in anyone’s best interest.
Start by just walking through in your mind what it would be like to leave the house for a few days – what would you want to take with you? What would you want to leave behind? Then imagine coming back, walking into the house, what would be your expectations? Who would be handling the cleaning? What about food and grocery shopping?What about household maintenance? Where would you sleep? Where would your STBX sleep?
How will you handle the changeover? Is your relationship civil enough for you both to be in the house together without drama or danger or will you have to wait in the driveway until your STBX leaves? If there are third parties involved, will they be staying at the house?
Work through it all step-by-step and then discuss it with your STBX. That discussion will be very telling because the nesting arrangement will only work if there is a level of trust between you, you can communicate with each other (even if that has to be via email) and there is a mutual commitment to make it work.
You could certainly agree to such an arrangement as a temporary solution, perhaps while you’re waiting for the house to sell or on a trial basis. If you and your STBX can’t agree on who should move out, a judge may even rule that you should nest temporarily.
A huge side-effect of doing this on a trial basis is that you will both be getting to experience what a more traditional parenting arrangement would feel like for your kids and that can only help you guide them through your divorce.
Tina Swithin describes herself as a one-time victim now survivor. She’s spent the past four years in a horrific custody battle with her ex who she believes suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can read about her journey at her blog, One Mom’s Battle and also in her book, Divorcing a Narcissist.
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