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Nesting child custody agreements

Divorce may be a particularly difficult time for children in Arizona. Spending time at two homes and having two separate bedrooms or belongings sometimes adds to the child's trauma. New child custody arrangements, however, have allowed the children to remain in the family home, because their parents take turns moving in and out.

This new arrangement is referred to as "nesting," and it promotes stability and predictability. However, it may have numerous emotional, financial and legal consequences.

One proponent of nesting claims it allows the parents to prioritize the children's needs despite any feelings about each other and eases any inevitable family interaction. Another supporter argues that it is a good short-term solution and may help the family through the separation if the parents trust each other and communicate well.

However, spousal interaction in this arrangement can cause problems. The cost of keeping three homes is out of the financial reach for most families. Sharing the same residence and its amenities is an intimate type situation even though the spouses may not be home at the same time.

Ex-spouses may use the family home to engage in disputes which ultimately harm the children. Parents may not respect each other's personal space, fail to clean up before the other parent moves in and not pay their fair share for groceries or other items. They may also interrogate the children on their ex-spouse's activities while visiting the home or point out their spouse's failings.

Some courts may not consider the couple as being separated if they are engaged in these nesting arrangements. This could impact division of property and child or spousal support orders.

Spousal support may lose its tax-deductible status if it appears that the couple is sharing a home. There may be tax ramifications following the sale of this residence.

An attorney can assist a parent with planning child custody and visitation arrangements that are financially and legally viable. Lawyers can help ensure that the best interests of the children are pursued in settlement discussions and court proceedings.

Source: The Washington Post, "Letting the kids stay in the home while the divorcing parents move in and out. Is it realistic?" Fiona Tap, July 27, 2017

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