Children are money-sucking machines. The cost for a middle-income family to raise a child is roughly $233,610. That’s almost $13,000 a year for 18 years in shared expenses.
After a divorce, your costs may change, but you should still expect to pay thousands for your child. You must work with your co-parent on shared expenses so your child has the best life possible.
When should you talk with your ex about shared expenses options? How does child support affect shared expenses? What should you do about one-time and emergency expenses?
Answer these questions and you can cover all of your bills without a problem. Here is your quick guide.
Talk to Your Ex About Shared Expenses
You should discuss sharing expenses with your ex early in the separation process. If you can, sit down with them and figure out a split that works for both of you.
Most judges require divorce agreements to have written plans for splitting expenses. You can reach whatever agreement works for you and your ex. If both of you earn roughly the same amount of money, you can split the expenses 50-50.
If one of you earns more money than the other, the person who earns more can pay for more expenses. But the other parent should contribute.
You don’t have to split all expenses. While you have custody of your child, you should pay for food and gifts, not your ex.
Understand What Child and Spousal Support Covers
If one of you needs support to cover your child’s expenses, the other parent can offer child support. Each state has its own laws for child support. Talk to a lawyer before you figure out how to use child support to pay for the bills.
In general, child support goes toward essential living expenses. You can use the money to pay for clothing, food, and housing. Child support may not cover health insurance or optional expenses like private school tuition.
Child support lasts until a child turns 18. If they go to a college or university, they can continue to receive money for their education. This includes certificate and graduate programs.
Spousal support or alimony is separate from child support. It covers one person’s expenses, including housing and food. Once they become independent, they no longer receive spousal support.
You cannot use spousal support to pay for your child’s expenses. There may be some overlap, as paying for your child’s housing often means paying for your housing. But money intended for you must go toward you primarily.
If you find a new partner, you should not expect them to pay for your child. They can do it if they want to, but they are under no obligation to chip in. Grandparents and other relatives can also chip in, but only if they have the money and desire to do so.
Develop a Schedule
You should first develop a custody schedule so you know when you have physical custody of your child. You should then figure out a payment schedule when you and your co-parent need to cover the bills. You may need to pay for groceries every week and rent every month.
You should also figure out when you need to pay one-time payments. Your child may need new school supplies in September, or you may need to get them gifts for their birthday.
Once you have your expenses charted out, you and your co-parent should figure out how you will pool your money. You can create a joint bank account and put money into it before you make a major payment.
If you keep your accounts separate, you can record when you make your payments on an app or a chart. Figure out how to manage shared expenses with an app for divorced parents.
Keep in Touch With Your Ex
You can follow your plan for managing expenses until your child becomes independent. However, you should remain in touch with your ex to see if your plan is going well.
You can communicate with your ex however you want. You can use an app, social media, or phone conversations.
If you need to talk with them about a major expense, you should have a face-to-face conversation so you can talk in full detail. You can make changes to your shared expenses plan if both of you agree on it.
Keep your conversations focused on expenses and don’t hash out a topic that doesn’t relate to your child directly. If you want, you can bring someone with you or communicate with your co-parent through an intermediary.
Prepare for Sudden Expenses
You should expect emergencies that you have to pay for. Your child may develop a medical condition that requires treatment, or they may need special education services.
Develop a plan with your co-parent to cover these unexpected expenses. Most parents split emergency expenses evenly, though you may need to pay more if your child is with you.
You also need to think about what would happen if you or your ex lose your job. The co-parent that still has their job may need to take over the other parent’s expenses while they find work. They may also need to pay temporary support to the unemployed spouse so they can keep their home.
Start Sharing Your Parenting Expenses
You can figure out shared expenses with your co-parent. Talk to your ex as soon as possible and write a formal plan for how you will split expenses. Keep in mind that child support goes toward expenses specifically for your child.
Develop a schedule so you know when the money is coming in. Stay in touch with your ex so you can deal with emergencies as soon as they happen. Try to split one-time expenses evenly, but step up if your ex needs support.
Take advantage of tools for shared expenses. 2houses offers premium co-parenting apps. Get started today.