Divorced couple making it work for their kids by 'nesting'

A new trend among divorcing parents is something called nesting. The children live in the family home and the parents take turns staying there. One local family explained how they make it work. 

Amy Giese is a divorced mom with two kids. She and her ex-husband separated in 2007 when their son and daughter were just four and six years old.

"It really came out as we were trying to figure out the best situation for the children," Giese said.  

That situation turned out to be the kids staying in the family home in Hartland, while mom and dad rotate in and out, when it's their turn to be in charge.

Each parent has a home as well.  Giese lives in this condo near downtown Milwaukee.  For 11 years, she's been driving 40 minutes or so to and from Hartland, a couple times a week.

Giese says her children, "appreciate the fact that their life is the same. They get on the bus in the morning, then come home from school in the same place. Their routine is the same. It's just whether mom or dad is home with them tonight."

The days with her kids can change weekly, depending on work and the kids' schedules.

She says she and her ex-husband have been able to figure things out, though, "really good communication and remember the kids come first."

That's not to say the arrangement is perfect. Giese says nesting can be difficult to explain when dating and still sharing a house when divorced has its challenges.

But again, she says communication is important, "the little things, if they bother you, hey you left your glass in the living room, don't overreact. Just say nicely, hey it would be great if you could think about doing this when you're at the house."

Long-time Milwaukee family law attorney, Terese Singer, works with dozens of couples every year, who want to divorce.

She says more are about nesting but says it "requires a particular set of personalities and a real commitment on both parents' part to make it work. It can be very difficult but it can be very successful for the children."

Singer says about 10 percent of her clients have tried nesting and with success because mom and dad have similar parenting styles.

"The reason it doesn't work I think it's related to it never gets off the ground. The personal issues between parents are so great, they can't even comprehend that kind of situation," she said.  

Money is also a major factor as well as the challenge of still be involved on a daily basis with the person a parent wants to divorce. But Giese says she would still do it all again, saying "maybe it's selfish but I'm glad their life isn't disrupted. I would rather disrupt my life for their life to be stable."

Giese's children are now 14 and 17 years old. She says there were a lot of naysayers in the beginning but the family has made it work and plans to continue nesting for several more years until their youngest graduates from high school.

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