Raising kids from birth to adulthood is certainly not cheap. Certain life events like divorce or unexpected illnesses can exacerbate those costs even further. Your child custody arrangement may also influence how you handle expenses for your child. For example, sharing custody usually means sharing expenses too.
However, expenses can quickly run out of control if you and your ex-spouse are not planning ahead. Creating a shared budget of child related expenses can clearly outline who is responsible for what, and how much he or she will need to plan for. Working this closely with an ex might not sound fun, but you have already committed to the joint effort of co-parenting, so you will probably be discussing finances anyway.
Setting expectations for home life, rules and boundaries is an important early step for co-parents. You can also use this time to lay out financial expectations. This means clearly outlining the costs that you are individually responsible for as well as those that you will share. Just a few expenses to consider are:
- Extracurricular activities
- Health insurance and copays
- Field trips
It is important to stay focused during these conversations. Discussing your child’s piano lesson fees is appropriate, whereas discussing your personal savings account is not. Setting boundaries about budget topics can help avoid tension over things that are not relevant to your child expense budget.
Health insurance and childcare
Having health insurance is essential, but it usually means forking over a large portion of your paycheck to maintain coverage. One thing you may want to consider is whether you or your ex’s insurance plans offer a Health Savings Account. An HSA is a special savings account for medical expenses, and all contributions are tax deductible.
Childcare is another costly — but necessary — service. Structuring your parenting plan to minimize how frequently you need childcare can cut down on how much you both have to pay. If you are both on good terms with one another’s families, you may also consider asking relatives to help from time to time. This will also help your childcare budget.
Making tough decisions
While co-parenting is great for parents who are committed to sharing parental responsibility, there is still the potential for conflict. After all, people usually do not get divorced because they see eye to eye on everything. You should be prepared to discuss difficult decisions and to compromise. Fighting over every small thing will make it harder when you reach financial topics that you feel strongly about.
Working out the details of your divorce, custody plan and financial expectations can feel overwhelming. It is also surprisingly easy to overlook important details when trying to devote your full attention to every matter at hand. This is why working with an attorney who is experienced in Ohio family law is so important, as he or she can help guide you through the process of divorce, sharing custody and more.