Massachusetts offers divorcing couples several child custody arrangements. Shared physical custody, or co-parenting, has increased in popularity and provided many families with child-raising advantages. After the marriage dissolves, both ex-spouses can still spend an equal amount of time living with their children. 

Divorcing spouses can negotiate a schedule that enables both parents to build a positive relationship with their children despite living in separate homes. A family court judge, however, needs to approve of a co-parenting arrangement. 

Finding the balance between two residences 

A co-parenting arrangement details the scheduling or circumstances related to when children will reside with one parent or the other. The timing could coincide with each ex-spouse’s work schedule and help reduce overall child care costs. 

For example, perhaps one parent regularly travels for work, the other parent may take physical custody of the children while he or she is away. The benefits include not having to pay for a live-in sitter. 

Sharing child-rearing expenses  

Depending on the arrangement, a judge may adjust the amount of financial support required to maintain two separate households. The court may order an individual who earns a substantially higher income to provide child support or alimony to supplement his or her ex-spouse’s housing. 

Expenses for a child’s medical care and education may require shared financial contributions. After reviewing each household’s budget, a judge may determine how much each spouse would contribute to health care or a college savings account following a divorce. 

Claiming tax credits as a noncustodial parent 

To claim tax credits as a noncustodial parent, a child must reside in the parent’s home for at least half of the year. The court may need to review a written agreement by the two ex-spouses that supports the arrangement. 

Negotiating a meaningful arrangement 

Shared parenting arrangements may cover birthdays, weekends and holidays and other dates that have meaning for the children. Effective communication during the negotiation portion of a co-parenting arrangement may require extra patience and tactfulness, but the children will benefit in the long run.