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New trend: separated parents share child custody under same roof

Most divorced and divorcing couples are eager to keep their ex-spouses out of their lives. This can be hard to do when children are involved. Now, it seems that concern for their children's emotional well-being is keeping some parents a lot closer physically than they might have ever imagined when they decided to part ways.

A new arrangement has become popular across the country, including in Missouri: separated or divorced parents living under the same roof for the sake of their children. Known as "nesting," the arrangement lets ex-spouses live in separate rooms or spaces under the same roof.

The arrangement is not for everybody, but it can benefit both children and parents. Children have a more stable environment because they have access to both parents and do not have to be shuttled between homes. It also allows more divorced fathers to take care of their children on a routine basis. Economically, both parents can share expenses and do not have to pay separately for two homes, something especially important given the economic troubles of the last few years. When parents decide to nest, they should uphold agreed-to house rules and respect each other's parenting styles as much as possible.

Although the arrangement seems to offer advantages, divorced parents should remember that all forms of child custody should keep a child's best interests in mind at all times. If nesting can lower the tension between ex-spouses and help children accept their parent's divorce, then ex-spouses may want to consider it.

Nevertheless, some divorced parents will have decisions to make that can affect child custody, including relocation that is required by a new relationship or by a job. Once a divorced parent considers moving away from the shared home, changes to a child-custody order will need to be considered.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Separated but living under one roof - for now," Kara Baskin, Dec. 25, 2013

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