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Is a Nesting Agreement Right for You?


Child custody is often the largest point of contention in a Colorado divorce case. What most parents can agree on, however, is that they want what’s best for their children. To some families, this means keeping the children in the family home 100 percent of the time rather than making them alternate residences when the parents share custody. This custody arrangement is known as bird nesting, bird-nest parenting or simply nesting.

What Is a Nesting Agreement in Divorce?

A nesting agreement in a divorce or legal separation case is a type of shared custody plan where the focus is on keeping the children in the home they are used to living in full-time. Rather than a traditional joint custody plan, where the children split their time between the two separate residences of each parent, a nesting agreement rotates the parents out of the family home according to an agreed-upon schedule and lets the children stay there full time.

Bird-nest parenting typically looks like this: Parent A lives in the family home with the children while Parent B lives in a rented space. When it’s time to switch custody – when it’s Parent B’s parenting time with the kids – Parent A and Parent B switch places. Parent A will stay in their rented space while Parent B stays in the marital home with the children until it’s Parent A’s parenting time. This pattern will continue for the duration of the parenting plan, with the parents rotating in and out of the home for their parenting time and the children never leaving.

Does Nesting Work Long Term?

A nesting agreement can work long term if both parents are on the same page and willing to work together. Like more traditional child custody arrangements, bird-nest parenting still requires an established parenting plan. Nesting is not a substitute for a time-sharing arrangement in a divorce case.

You and your spouse will need to sit down together and work out exactly what your schedule will look like – including who will be in the marital home with the children for weekends, weekdays, holidays, birthdays, school vacations, special occasions, etc. Nesting has a better chance of working long term if a couple is amicable and able to communicate and work together for the sake of their children.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Nesting Agreement?

If you and your spouse are curious whether a nesting agreement is right for your family, consider the various pros and cons that can come with this arrangement:


  • The changes that children have to adapt to during a divorce are kept to a minimum.
  • Children don’t have to spend any time away from their friends, community or nearby family members.
  • Children can continue attending the same daycare, school or church all week long.
  • Neither parent has to give up living in the marital home.
  • You can save money by renting a small studio for the nonmarital property.
  • You don’t have to decide right away whether you want to sell or keep the family home.


  • You are unable to sell the marital home, which can prevent a clean break.
  • Not selling the marital home can also have negative financial consequences.
  • It can be difficult to work out matters such as who will pay for repairs to the marital home.
  • Organizing taxes, such as who gets to deduct the mortgage interest, can be difficult.
  • Calculating child support can be more difficult since both parents are still technically living together.
  • The couple must be able to communicate and work together to share a living space.
  • This arrangement can get tricky if one or both parents start to date other people.

You have a lot to think about as a parent considering a nesting agreement after divorce or legal separation. Talk this option over with a Fort Collins child custody lawyer for further information and personalized advice for your family’s unique situation.

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