Disagreements about money can put stress on a marriage. Hopefully, like the author of this excellent article, as you went through your divorce, you managed to come up with an amicable solution that left you both satisfied, focusing on the well-being of your children and giving you both a solid new start.
However, even with custody and child support figured out, as well as issues like whose health insurance plan your children would be covered by, you may be surprised to discover new money issues come up.
Start with the Divorce Settlement
Before you even get to the divorce, hire a mediator who can anticipate the things you’re likely to need to pay for as your children grow. Child support doesn’t always account for things like paying for college, going to sleep-away camp, or helping kids pay for cars.
When possible, get these potential expenses on paper during the divorce process. You might decide to split the costs 50/50. Or perhaps you split the costs proportional to each parent’s income. As financial situations change, having a proportional agreement, rather than a dollar amount, can help you adjust the responsibility.
Obviously, it’s hard to anticipate all future financial demands. Every time something new comes up, you have to tackle it separately, based on your past experiences and current circumstances.
Decide Your Priorities
When it comes to extras, it’s vital that you know your priorities. If you want your son to have the chance to learn music, but your ex doesn't think this is important, you may have to assume the full cost for these activities.
Communication is Key
As with all relationships, good communication is key when financial issues come up in a co-parenting situation. Talk to your ex calmly and politely, and stay on task. If you’ve already agreed on cost sharing in your divorce settlement, all you may need to do in many cases is remind your ex in a timely manner of their responsibility.
Things can get stickier when you don’t have an agreement in writing, though. As you talk about these issues, you really need to stay on target. This isn’t a time to rehash old grievances or make accusations about what the other person has or hasn’t paid for in the past.
What if You Can’t Agree?
For smaller things you can’t agree on, you might be on your own when it comes to paying. Chances are, it’s not worth it to force your ex to get involved, especially if you’re already struggling to get what’s owed you from the divorce settlement.
However, if there are big expenses vital to your children’s well-being, you might have to get a lawyer and head back to court.