Who Pays for What? Raising Kids After Divorce | Two HappyHomes Inc.

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Who Pays for What? Raising Kids After Divorce

If you have been through a divorce with children in tow most likely you have gone through many battles with your ex regarding child support; how much, what it’s used for, who pays for your child’s “extras”. 
 
It can be stressful when there are other “new” partners involved in the co-parenting unit that are not happy about child support payments or “extras” for the children being included in their new family’s monthly budget. 
 
So how do you keep the peace, protect your children, and make sure they have everything they need? It is not always easy, but here are a few tips to keep things running smoothly.
 
Who saves for their future?
If you are the parent receiving child support from your ex, is it your responsibility to save or theirs? In my opinion both parties should be saving for THEIR child’s future. It is important to keep in mind child support ends when your child graduates from high school or turns 18; then who pays for things? Kids of this age are looking to attend college, buy a car, move out-wouldn't it be nice for them to have some savings set aside for these life events? Consider one of the following:
  • An automatic deduction from your child support payment directly to a savings account for your child.
  • A savings account for the child set up by both parents in which they can deposit funds at anytime but neither party has the ability to remove the funds.
  • A college fund such as a 529 plan where pre-tax dollars are set aside for your child’s future education. 
Who pays for the extras?
My son is still young and has been involved in extra-curricular activities since he was three years old. For those of you who have school age children you know the expense of these types of activities. Uniforms, sporting equipment, fundraisers are all part of these extra activities. 
 
We all want our children to be well-rounded, physically fit, and exposed to various social circles. Let your children decide what is most important to them and have them choose what they would most like to do. Then discuss with your ex a fair distribution of how to pay for these activities. Maybe one parent pays the enrollment and the other buys the equipment, uniform, etc. 
 
Clothes - Your house or mine?
This is a battle many co-parents face as the kids are spending time at both places and well, need to be dressed. Do you pack a bag? Buy your own wardrobe for your house?  We all know that smaller clothes do not always equal smaller prices. Make it clear that you feel this is part of child support (if you feel that way) or, agree to help buy new clothes at certain times of the year; back to school and winter. Having your expectations / extras laid out in advance can help ward off arguments later. 
 
Fight fair, and not in front of the kids.
Your child's relationship with all involved parties of a co-parented family is important. Respect your child's relationship with their other parent, and keep the below in mind: 
  • Do not speak badly about your ex-spouse in front of your child.
  • Do not make accusations against your ex-spouse in front of your child.
  • Do not put your child in the middle of a disagreement.
  • Do not use your child as a messenger or go-between.
  • Do not argue or discuss child support issues in front of your child.
  • Do not use your child as a pawn to hurt the other parent. 
Money is always a touchy subject especially when both parties are living their own lives.  Remember to put your children's needs first, and then pick your battles. If you are struggling financially due to not receiving child support there are always options when it comes to receiving debt help.
 
I would love to hear your stories and advice about dividing expenses, so please leave your comments! 
 
 

Suzanne Cramer is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Suzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @SuzanneCramer1 and @AskCareOne where she shares her insights on divorce and managing your finances.

 

Comments

"extras", lol. i pay for everything. clothes, dentist, health insurance, meds (cronic conditions), therapy (needed due to abuse from "dad"), braces, glasses/contacts, tutor, cell phones. he doesn't feed them on the mondays he takes them to school. so tomorrow, they will have no breakfast and will get hot lunch with money i have put in their school accounts. he doesn't do their laundry, and any clothing i send "vanishes", so they don't have pajamas or a change of underware at his house. since christmas, each of the kids has had a birthday. he got one of them a cake, sent 2 of them $20, and called each of them to say, "you made it" (?). he has 2 homes and makes over $200k a year. at christmas he gave one of them $60 and told her to buy gifts for her and her 2 sisters. this included santa for the youngest. when the youngest was dissapointed, he told her there was no santa. i would never ask him to contribute to anything, because i learned long ago, as did our children, that he is not a resource.
Great tips, Suzanne. I'd like to add that the extras (referred to as Section 7 expenses in Canada) are often shared according to the parent's income. So if Dad is earning 3x what Mom is earning he will pay a proportionately greater amount.This is beyond child support but can be negotiated at the same time as the child support agreement, making it legally binding between the parents. I recommend a legal Consent agreement for support/expenses to ensure Mom isn't living below poverty or even struggling. Just a quick comment on the last tips. I believed and abided by the "no comment or no negative statements about the ex in front of the kids". However, sometimes you must speak up. If your ex is alienating the children, not paying any support then it is important to tell the kids the truth, especially if they are asking questions. This goes for older children of course. Silence can be taken as fact, so if he is bashing you and you remain silent, children take the bashing as fact. Great post and tips!
He has a legal obligation to you and your children. If you want to go down that road there are things you can do to ensure child support. Your kids shouldn't be deprived.
@mightbeatranny That sounds awful! I have to say that it is not uncommon. I hear that alot from other divorce`s. Stay strong and do the best for your kids they know and appreciate you :) @Lisa Thomson Thanks :) I appreciate your sharing the info for Canda. Yes alienation is certainly where you can draw the line and speak up--your kids deserve the truth.
Co-parenting is hell for me. Clothes-I buy her clothes, but when she wears them to his place, he keeps them, and sends her back in clothes that are too small..then I have to nag at him to return the clothes I buy for her because I need them..but he pays little or no attention to what I need. He harrasses me about not doing enough or not doing whatever right in regards to her, etc, when he was the one that wasn't around in the first place! He judges me, puts me down--not in front of her, but directly to me...which doesn't help my situation at all because I haven't been able to get a job, no other income than the child support. He pays for her medical insurance. I have primary placement. So she lives with me. He's not paying the full 17% because I had no choice but to strike a deal since he pays for insurance. I'm completely broke. He doesn't feel the support money should go to anything other than things for her. Little does he understand that also includes shelter, heat, electricity, phone, food, bedsheets, shoes, clothes, things for school, gas to get her to school, classes, extra curricular activities, friends play dates/social activity...I'm at my wits end. I'm stressed out enough as it is and he just adds to it on purpose. I am also learning the hard way that he is definitely not a resource. Just a complete jerk. Clothes...ha. I'm lucky if I get them back. Sometimes he denies he has them, won't give them back, lies, etc. He got the house, makes $65,000/yr, just got remarried in a big wedding...secure job..last year he screwed me big time and didn't pay child support for 2 months messing up my own bills..so I couldn't even catch up by the time his dad had to cover for him to pay at the last day of the year because he lied to them too!! He doesn't care about her interests...only the basic needs. With me she has friends to play with, places to go, things to do...just activities!! I play with her, I sacrificed my last dollars to get her into gymnastics for a few weeks...I'm busting my butt to get a job with NO luck...I don't have cable, internet, phone, credit cards--nothing extra. Anything I have always goes to my baby. He's loving it and is always looking to take me to court to get at me more...he's evil and always has a nasty plan up his sleeve...I just wish he'd leave me alone...he's not helping at all. Only causing more harm than good. I'm alone with no family help because they're broke...he's got the silver spoon. I'm so miserable. He's the one that filed. :( Been very depressed for a long time. Why he has to be an ass to me I don't know. He's remarried. I'm alone. My baby is fine! She loves being with me and she is happy when she is with me because I do things with her and let her have friends and social activity.
It's a helpful for the kid. The situation of the parents should consider how thechild's feelings about the separation. http://www.fathersrightsinc.com/