10 Tips for Divorced Parents With Joint Custody of Massachusetts Children

by | Jul 5, 2023 | Divorce |

A Massachusetts divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience for everyone involved, especially for children. As a divorced parent with joint custody of a child, your priority should always be the well-being of your child. 

Putting your child first can be challenging, especially when dealing with co-parenting conflicts, scheduling issues, and other difficulties that arise. 

However, by focusing on your child’s needs and creating a positive co-parenting relationship, you can help your child thrive in both households. We’ve highlighted the importance of prioritizing your child’s needs and creating a positive co-parenting relationship, both of which can help your child thrive in both households. 

With dedication and a focus on your child’s well-being, you can successfully navigate the challenges of joint custody of a child and provide your child with the love and support they need to grow and flourish.

What is the meaning of joint custody of a child?  

Joint custody refers to an arrangement in which both parents have equal legal rights and responsibilities for their child’s upbringing. In a joint custody arrangement, the child typically spends significant time with both parents, and major decisions regarding the child’s welfare are made jointly.

There are two types of joint custody: 

  • Joint legal custody 
  • Joint physical custody. 

Joint legal custody refers to the shared decision-making responsibilities of the parents, such as those related to education, healthcare, and religion. Joint physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the child’s living arrangements and the time spent with each parent.

The specific terms of joint custody arrangements can vary widely depending on the family’s circumstances and the court’s decisions.

When parents agree to the child custody procedure, they must work together to create a detailed parenting plan outlining how joint custody works, including visitation schedules, decision-making responsibilities, and communication strategies.

By working together and prioritizing their child’s well-being, parents can ensure that their child’s needs are met and that they have a strong foundation for their future.

Joint custody: Pros and cons

Getting joint custody is a common arrangement in divorce cases where both parents share the responsibility of raising their children. While it has its benefits, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. Here are five pros and cons.

1. Pros of joint custody

Joint custody has become a popular option in divorce cases, as it allows both parents to share the responsibility of raising their children. Here are the potential benefits of joint custody.

  • Joint custody of a child allows both parents to share responsibility for raising their children, which can provide a stable and supportive environment for children to grow up in.
  • With joint custody, parents are often required to communicate and work together more frequently, which can improve communication and reduce conflict between them.
  • Children have equal access to both parents, which can be beneficial for their emotional and psychological well-being.
  • Joint custody can help reduce the financial burden of raising a child, as both parents are responsible for providing for their child’s needs.
  • Joint custody can help foster better relationships between children and both parents, as children have the opportunity to spend time with both parents on a regular basis.

2. Cons of joint custody

While joint custody has its benefits, it also has potential drawbacks that must be considered. Here are the cons to keep in mind when deciding if joint custody is the right option for your family.

  • Joint child custody can also lead to increased conflict between parents, especially if they have difficulty communicating or working together.
  • Joint custody can be challenging to manage, especially if parents live far apart or have conflicting work schedules.
  • Joint custody can sometimes lead to an uneven division of responsibilities, where one parent takes on more of the burden of parenting than the other.
  • Children may find it stressful to have to move between two homes, especially if they have difficulty adjusting to change.
  • Joint custody of a child can result in disagreements between parents about , which can be stressful for both parents and children.

Managing joint custody as divorced parents can be challenging, but it’s essential to ensure the well-being of your children. Here are 10 tips to help make it work.

1. Communicate effectively with your ex-spouse

Effective communication is key to successful co-parenting. Divorced parents with joint custody should maintain open and respectful communication with each other, focusing on the children’s needs. 

Clear and consistent communication can help avoid misunderstandings and conflicts, ensuring a stable and positive environment for the children. 

Joint Custody with a Jerk by Julie A. Ross discusses how navigating joint custody with a difficult ex-spouse can be challenging, but practical communication strategies can help create a positive co-parenting environment for the child.

2. Make a detailed parenting plan and stick to it as much as possible

A detailed parenting plan is crucial for managing joint custody arrangements. It should outline the children’s schedules, activities, and the roles of each parent. 

Sticking to the plan as much as possible ensures stability and predictability for the children, minimizing disruptions and potential conflicts between the parents.

3. Encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with the other parent

Encouraging your children to maintain a healthy relationship with the other parent is crucial for their emotional well-being. Even if you have negative feelings towards your ex-spouse, it’s important to keep those separate from your children’s relationship with their other parent. 

Helping your children build and maintain a strong bond with both parents can provide them with a sense of security and stability in the long run.

4. Avoid speaking negatively about the other parent in front of your children

Speaking negatively about your ex-spouse in front of your children can have detrimental effects on their emotional well-being. It can create confusion, stress, and resentment in the children, affecting their relationship with both parents. 

Divorced parents with joint custody should refrain from discussing their issues in front of the children and avoid criticizing or belittling the other parent.

5. Keep your children’s routines consistent in both households

Maintaining consistency in your children’s routines between households is important for their emotional and mental stability. Divorced parents with joint custody should work together to establish consistent schedules for their children, including sleep, meals, and activities. 

This can help reduce stress and anxiety in the children, as they know what to expect in both households, providing them with a sense of stability and predictability.

6. Be flexible and willing to compromise when necessary

Flexibility and compromise are essential for successful co-parenting. Divorced parents with joint custody should be willing to make adjustments to their parenting plans when necessary and communicate their needs and concerns to each other. 

Being open to compromise and considering the other parent’s perspective can help avoid conflicts and create a positive co-parenting relationship, benefiting the children in the long run.

7. Respect each other’s parenting styles and decisions

Respect for each other’s parenting styles and decisions is crucial for successful co-parenting. 

Even if you have different parenting styles or opinions, it’s important to respect each other’s choices and avoid criticizing or undermining the other parent’s decisions in front of the children. Mutual respect can help create a positive co-parenting relationship, benefiting the children and their emotional well-being in the long run.

8. Attend important events in your children’s lives together if possible

Attending important events together as divorced parents can show your children that they are loved and supported by both parents, despite the separation. It can also prevent any discomfort or awkwardness for the children when both parents are present at events such as graduations or performances.

9. Keep your children’s best interests at heart in all decision-making

Putting Children First is an insightful guide by JoAnne Pedro-Carroll that explains why keeping your children’s best interests at heart is crucial when making any decision as a divorced parent. 

Consider how each decision will affect your children, and prioritize their needs above any personal grievances or biases. This can help create a positive co-parenting relationship and ensure the emotional well-being of your children.

10. Seek help from a therapist or mediator if conflicts get too difficult

Seeking couples therapy from a therapist or taking help from a mediator can be beneficial for resolving conflicts when parents decide on getting custody of a child. 

A neutral third party can offer an objective perspective and help parents communicate effectively, minimizing conflicts and promoting a positive co-parenting relationship. This can benefit the children’s emotional well-being and provide a healthy environment for their growth and development.

When is joint custody the right option?

Joint custody of a child may be the right option for families where both parents are capable of providing a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for the children. It’s also ideal for parents who are willing to work together and prioritize the children’s well-being above any personal differences. 

Joint custody can help maintain a strong relationship between the children and both parents, minimizing the emotional impact of the divorce on the children. 

However, it’s important to note that joint custody may not be suitable for every family situation, especially if there is a history of domestic violence or substance abuse. In such cases, sole custody may be the safer and more appropriate option.

How does joint custody impact child support?

In joint custody arrangements, child support may be impacted differently depending on the specific terms of the agreement.

Typically, child support payments are based on the income of both parents with the non-custodial parent receiving support to cover the child’s expenses. In joint custody arrangements, both parents may have relatively equal time with the child, and child support payments may be adjusted accordingly. 

The court may consider the income of both parents when determining child support payments. It’s important for divorced parents with joint custody to understand their legal rights and responsibilities regarding child support and seek legal advice if needed.

What if you disagree with an arrangement?

Disagreements can arise between divorced parents with joint custody of a child, even with the best intentions and efforts to co-parent successfully. 

In such cases, it’s essential to communicate effectively and seek a resolution that works for both parties and prioritizes the children’s well-being. If parents cannot agree on a decision, they may seek the help of a mediator or therapist to facilitate discussion and find a mutually acceptable solution. 

In some cases, legal action may be necessary, and parents may need to seek the advice of an attorney. It’s essential to approach disagreements with an open mind, prioritize the children’s needs, and seek the help needed to find a resolution.

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.


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