Parallel parenting versus nesting

Children are resilient and usually recover from the trauma of their parents’ divorce with time. You and your ex-spouse can help facilitate this by establishing a consistent parenting time routine and minimizing conflict between the two of you, which causes the most trauma for children.

Parallel parenting and nesting are alternative custody arrangements that may be available to you. Parallel parenting minimizes conflict, while nesting avoids major disruption to the children’s routine.

Parallel parenting

On the surface, parallel parenting looks a lot like more traditional custody arrangements. You and your ex-spouse have designated times to spend with the children, who travel back and forth between your homes. According to Healthline, the difference is that parallel parenting either prevents direct interaction with your spouse or restricts it to the bare minimum. This way, hostilities do not have a chance to flare.


According to Psychology Today, the goal of nesting is to avoid disrupting your children’s lives any more than necessary while allowing them time with both parents separately. Rather than the children traveling back and forth between your new residence and your ex’s, the children stay in the home you all shared before the divorce. You and your ex each spend time in the home with the kids according to your parenting schedule. When your ex-spouse’s parenting time begins, you leave the home and the children in your ex-spouse’s care. Nesting requires both you and your ex to find alternate accommodations elsewhere so you have a place to go when your parenting time is up.

It may be possible to create a custody agreement that incorporates both nesting and parallel parenting. For example, a neighbor could stay with your kids when it is time for you to go “off-duty” so you can leave the house before your ex-spouse’s parenting “shift” begins.

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