Divorced Parents: Share School-Related Expenses

Divorced Parents Share School-Related Expenses

Money– for most of us, it’s our least favorite thing to talk about. When you’re raising kids as participating co-parents, discussing finances can sometimes feel like pulling teeth.

While the concept of child support eventually becomes a normal part of life for families that are raising children post-divorce, certain times of the year always feel like a heightened challenge. Christmas, birthdays and back-to-school season can really weigh on parents who are trying to decide how to fairly and effectively finance an enriching life for their kids. 

You know what? It doesn’t have to feel that way. 

From open communication to implementing a co-parenting app, shared expenses don’t have to be a messy, uncomfortable thing to manage during the school year. Read on to learn how to effectively handle this component of co-parenting your school-aged child. 

Average Cost of Back-To-School Expenses

The average family spends $272-360 per child during the back-to-school season. One in five families will spend more than that, expecting to contribute over $400 in expenses per child in order to prepare them with the proper supplies and clothes. 

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in additional costs for some families. In order to prepare for online school, some families spent thousands of dollars in order to equip their kids with the right technology

Education-Related Expenses 

Education expenses are any expenses required for your child to be enrolled in or participate in school. These expenses may include but are not limited to: 

  • Uniforms
  • Tuition and fees
  • Transportation costs to and from school 
  • School supplies
  • Books
  • Room and board
  • Tutoring
  • Computers and technology

Families are spending more and more on these items every year, especially as their children get older. It’s important that separated or divorced parents discuss what items are necessary for school, and what are unnecessary expenses. 

Extracurricular Expenses 

If they’re anything like the statistics, your kids are likely excited to get back into their extracurricular activity of choice. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 42%  of school-aged children were involved in sports. 30% of children were involved in some kind of private lessons (like music), and 28 percent were involved in clubs. 

Of these kids, 9% participated in all three types of activities. That makes for a busy (and potentially expensive) school year!

Activity costs may include: 

  • Yearbooks, photos, admission to events
  • Sports physicals 
  • Prom, homecoming, or other dance expenses 
  • Registration fees
  • Sports equipment and uniforms
  • Transportation costs to and from activities 
  • Driver’s education costs 
  • Private music, sport or drama lessons 
  • Student activity fees
  • Instruments

Just as you and your former spouse come to a transportation and custody agreement, it’s important to acknowledge the expenses that come with your children’s favorite pastimes. While wildly beneficial for their health, development, and happiness, 46% of parents report spending more than $1,000 on their kids’ activities every year. If you’re co-parenting, it’s time to talk about how that’s going to be split between households. 

Picking a School

After a divorce, a child may need to change schools to satisfy their new living situation or their parent’s expectations for their education. If you’re like 10% of families in the United States, you may consider private school over public school for your family. This will obviously come at a cost. 

On average,  K-12 schools will cost a family $25,000-$65,000 a year. Will this be sustainable once your incomes are no longer combined? 

When determining what school you will ultimately finance, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is private school a necessity, or a luxury? 
  • What is in the best interest of your child? 
  • What is each parent able to pay? 
  • Can you make this decision without a mediator? 

If the child is already enrolled in a private school, it may be best to keep them in an environment they are familiar with. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your child. Have an honest conversation as parents– it may make for an easy decision. 

Post-Secondary Education 

Is your child nearing the age of 18? Parental support may extend beyond childhood. 25 states give courts the authority to order a non-custodial parent to pay some level of college expenses. This kind of child support is called “post-minority” or “post-secondary” support.

Have you already established a college fund? What sort of support will you provide to assist with moving or living expenses? Set aside some time and have a sit-down discussion about what kind of future you are expecting once your child reaches his or her college years.  

Spending Philosophies 

How did it feel to discuss money in your marriage? Were expenses split, or determined by income ratios? While determining a fair child support arrangement, courts will consider the following: 

  • The gross incomes of both parents (includes salary/hourly wages, any commissions, rental income, tips, or bonuses)
  • The typical payroll deductions and available tax deductions for both parents
  • The custody agreement 
  • Each parent’s expected childcare costs

If you’re still working out the specifics, start with considering two very general expense-sharing philosophies. 

50:50 Spending 

Do you feel that it is most fair to split costs 50/50? This is most common for separating parents who earn similar incomes. 

If you can work out a monthly payment agreement, or reimburse one another by 50% immediately, you may be able to avoid any conflict involving delayed payments or anything in direct violation of the child support agreement. 

Income Ratios 

If there is a substantial difference in income, it may be the fairest to agree upon an income-based system. A 70/30 or 60/40 split might be the most reasonable arrangement if you expect to maintain a quality living environment while paying off all other bills and debts. 

Did you experience a high-asset divorce? It may be time to discuss the reality of child support costs and what you can reasonably afford. A divorce is an expensive time for both parties– it’s best to stay compassionate and realistic in what you both expect to earn and contribute. 

Dividing by Line Item 

Would you rather just take turns paying for items and activities? If the two of you have been doing this for a while and know what kind of costs should be anticipated, it might be convenient to split expenses based on specific costs. 

Perhaps one parent covers all extracurricular expenses while another pays for a great first day of school outfit. If one parent is more invested in a sport or activity more than the other, they may feel driven to contribute more than their required share. Talk it out! 

How to Determine Shared Expenses  

Are you looking for some quick methods to implement into your shared expenses? Consider some of these tricks to eliminate friction.  

Tracking Spending 

Tracking spending is a core organizational tactic that many households–separated or not– use to keep their finances in line. By keeping receipts and documenting every single charge, you can ensure that both parties are abiding by the agreed-upon child support directive. This can be done both online (spreadsheets or shared docs are convenient) as well as by collecting and keeping all receipts. 

Expense tracking can also be a great communication or “check-in” tool. Keeping the other parent “in the loop” about what expenses have come up and how they were paid for will help to keep things cordial.  No need for surprises or awkward parking lot payouts if you agree to a regular finance meeting. 

Review Trends

If you’re successfully tracking every expense, it’s easy to look back on last year’s expenses. Once you can anticipate what the expected costs are, it’s much easier to come to an exact agreement that doesn’t leave room for frustrating surprises. Managing expectations is one of the best things you can do for this new kind of relationship. 

Reviewing trends is also a great learning experience for you both. By looking over what money was spent unnecessarily or in excess, the two of you can update what might be expected, or budget a little differently. That’s more money in both of your pockets! 

Put Agreements in Writing 

If you are still working out an arrangement, the court may require you to track all expenses to ensure that they qualify for reimbursement or cost-sharing.

If expenses are something your lawyers are keeping track of, it’s best to record them in accordance with your child support agreement, and make any required payments by the date they are expected. 

Even if your arrangement isn’t required by the court, you may want to consider having your agreement added to the court order in order to hold everyone accountable. If this is done, remember that this agreement may need to be amended as the child gets older, and as their expenses start to evolve. 

Co-Parenting App

Are you always on the go? Are you a tech junkie? Do you prefer having everything in one place so it’s easier to track and share? 

If so, a co-parenting app might be the key to a successful school year. 

A financial management system helps you and your co-parent keep track of child-related expenses in one singular place. Name and categorize each expense so it’s clear what each charge is for. Take pictures of receipts for quick uploads and reimbursements on the go. 

co-parenting app like 2Houses bridges the communication gap between households by releasing a wish list feature to keep your co-parent in the loop of upcoming expenses. You can also send a parent a request to reimburse you for their determined portion of any expenses. No more texting back and forth about money, or using your child as the middleman. 

Once it’s time for tax season, exporting all data into a CSV or PDF will make things easier for you or your accountant. You will never again have to ask for financial documentation from a co-parent in order to complete or file your taxes or see if you qualify for a tax credit. 

Potential Challenges 

The confusing aspect of child support is the lack of guidance or prescribed spending provided by the court. As child support intends to provide for a child’s basic needs, it usually only accounts for: 

  • Housing
  • Food 
  • Clothing

This becomes even more apparent when households are trying to determine where their child will attend school. If parents cannot agree on the type of education their child will receive, it is up to the court to decide. 

The courts will consider the following conditions: 

  • The parents’ respective educational backgrounds
  • The age and grade of the child
  • The current enrollment environment of the child and how long they have attended that particular school
  • How a private school education compares to the quality of education at the public school the child would otherwise attend
  • The financial resources of the parents

These questions certainly don’t have to be answered in court. Bringing these considerations to the table on your own can help you two communicate clearly, and effectively. Communicating with respect, patience, and grace will help you and your former spouse solve the labyrinth that is co-parenting.  

Keep Track of Shared Expenses With One Great Tool

The most important part of keeping a handle on co-parenting expenditures and shared expenses is staying organized. While we can’t promise a completely stress-free school year (read: runny noses, lost textbooks, late mornings), an organized approach that involves splitting costs, methods of payment, deciding what costs are necessary together will keep two co-parents on the same team. 

Is your team looking for the right tool to keep your two houses in order? Start your 14-day trial of 2Houses and discover how the right financial management system can ensure your separate accounts operate in sync. 

Ways to Deal with Your Divorce as a Woman and Manage Finances

Divorce and finances

A divorce is usually harsher financially for any woman. In fact, a divorce means that a woman will have to live with lesser money than she had when married. And at such times, money management can be very difficult.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gender pay gap in American continues to persist. Currently, women earn only 84 Cents for every $1 that a man earns. This also puts women at some disadvantage.

And women can face more financial problems if they’ve to provide for children too.

Therefore, in this article, I will write about ways to deal with your divorce as a woman and manage finances.

Let’s start by learning a bit about divorce rates in USA.

Divorce Rates in USA

If you’re struggling to manage your finances after divorce, you’re not alone. According to law firm Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, the divorce rate for every 1,000 women in America is whopping 16.9 percent. Almost 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce or separation, according to the WF-Law website.

Furthermore, researchers estimate that 41 percent of all first marriages end in divorce or separation. About 60 percent of all second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages also end in divorce. As a matter of fact, the US ranks fourth in the list of countries with highest divorce rates, with the first three positions being taken by Russia, Belarus and Gibraltar.

The website also has some shocking facts. There’s at least one divorce in America every 13 seconds. As a result, over 15 percent of all adult women in USA are divorced.

The lockdowns of 2020, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic saw a surge in domestic violence leading to an increase in divorce rates across America. However, exact statistics are not yet available for this phenomenon. Most of these divorces during the Covid-19 period are mainly on grounds of domestic violence.

The average age for divorces is 30 years while 60 percent of all divorces involve people aged between 25 years and 39 years.

Dealing with Finances After Divorce

These figures clearly indicate that you’re not the only divorcee that could feel stressed, loneliness & financial issues after divorce. At the same time, not every woman suffers financially after divorce. That because they know how to deal with a divorce and manage finances.

Therefore, let’s look at various ways and means you could successfully use to manage finances after divorce.

Make a Financial Plan

As I mention earlier, women can sometimes bear the financial brunt of a divorce. Therefore, the first thing to do is make a superb financial plan for yourself. Calculate all your income, assets and liabilities. Find ways and means by which you can put the money you have in your savings to work and fetch you some income.

Investing on stocks, Mutual Funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), commodities and currencies is an excellent way to grow your money instead of allowing it to lie idle in a savings account. These financial instruments offer high returns over a period of time. However, you need to stay invested for long to make tangible and significant returns.

Find Side Gigs

Bridging the gap between your income as a divorcee and what you had while married isn’t always easy. Therefore, a side gig could help you overcome any shortfalls in money. There’re countless side-gigs that’re available for women. In fact, you can do a lot of them from the comfort of your house.

A side-gig not only gives you enough money but it also keeps you away from financial and other stress as well as loneliness to some degree. Its worth knowing that lots of Americans suffer from anxiety over money. And such anxiety affects divorced women fiercely. You can prevent anxiety over your financial condition by taking a side-gig or a part-time job that keeps you gainfully employed.

Think About Retirement Plans

One thing that most divorced women ignore is retirement plans. As a married couple, you might have had some plans for those golden years. However, the situation changes drastically after a divorce and you’re left to fend for yourself. Therefore, don’t ignore retirement plans. Studies across the US reveal a shocking fact: that more than 90 percent of Americans don’t have sufficient money to retire.

Surely, you wouldn’t want to be caught in this trap after divorce. Therefore, consider how and where you wish to retire, the amount of money you’ll require during those years and start planning for them right away. You could invest on annuities that would offer enough payouts when you retire. That way, you’re keeping away poverty in those golden years when you’ll be no longer working and having an active income.

Use Investment Apps

Understandably, you might not have much money from the divorce settlement and your own job. However, that’s no reason why you can’t start investing on stocks and commodities markets. Nowadays, there’re as many as five superb apps that allow you to start an investment journey with as little as $5 only. These apps include Robin Hood, Acorns, TD Ameritrade and others. You can download these apps on your smartphones for free and start investing.

You needn’t start by investing huge amounts of money if that’s not possible. Even a sum of $5 would be adequate. These apps allow you to invest in fractional shares and fractional ETFs. That means, instead of getting one full share of a company, you get a fraction worth the money you invest. And when you keep buying such fractions over a period of time, they add up to one share. This is an excellent way for any woman who’s divorced to start her investment journey.

Rework Your Health Plan

As a married couple, you might have had a health plan for the family. However, after divorce, this isn’t possible. Therefore, get your divorce attorney to rework the health plan with the insurer. And if that too is impossible, go for an altogether new health plan that suits your needs. All of us are aware that healthcare in America is very expensive. And without a good health insurance, you would have to bear these expenses from your purse.

There’re several excellent health insurances or Mediclaim plans available from various insurance firms. Consider all options before buying one. The best thing to do is shop around and find the best rates. Some insurance firms lower the premiums if you’re going for home insurance, health insurance and vehicle insurance from them. A combined plan costs lower than individual ones.

Build Your Credit

A divorce can leave your credit score in shambles. That’s not always the case, but sometimes you might be left with poor credit scores due to debts and other credit taken during your married days. Therefore, the best thing to do in such a situation is to look at how you could build your credit score once again.

There’re several ways and means to build a healthy credit score. One of these is to expedite the payment of your credit card dues. That’s because credit cards come with a stiff Annual Purchase Rate. And the longer you don’t pay the full dues, the APR keeps adding.

Having a credit card itself is good to build a credit score. However, it requires you to pay all outstanding dues on time and ensure that ARP doesn’t build up and boom beyond your control.

Shun Expensive or Large Purchases

Expensive or large purchases can throw your finances in a tailspin. Therefore, avoid these at all costs. Literally. Often, women go on shopping binges to overcome the loneliness and sorrow that accompanies a divorce. And this occurs even if you’ve been through a turbulent relationship with a partner.

Here, it’s worth remembering that they money you get as settlement or child maintenance could be one-off and hence, you need to utilize it properly. Therefore, I will again emphasize on the need to invest your money wisely on wealth building plans and retirement plans. The more you save and invest now, the more financial security you would enjoy in the future.

Get Financial Advisor

I’m aware that financial advisors don’t come cheap. However, if you’re unsure about what to do with your money and require some good financial planning advise, I recommend you consult a good financial advisor. They’re qualified to help you plan your finances for the future. Though you’ll spend a few Dollars for availing their services, it would prove to be a worthwhile investment.

A financial advisor usually has ties with banks, investment and insurance firms. Therefore, they’re aware of various plans and schemes that’re available in the market. This puts them in an ideal position to guide you on where to put your money and how much to invest on different plans to get high returns. For any divorcee, this advice can make a lot of difference in their financial life after divorce.

In Conclusion

As you can see from the above steps, managing finances for women after divorce isn’t all that difficult. The first thing you need to do is take hold of your finances and work towards securing a happier and better future for self and children if any, after divorce. Before concluding, I will add that a financial advisor can actually help you realize your financial goals. Hence, you can use their services safely, despite the cost. And if you wish, some banks and financial companies also provide robo-advisors for smaller investors to make the best of their finances. A divorce isn’t the end of the world for anyone, including you. It’s possible to get hold of your finances and live happily once again.

Shared expenses: How to keep It Simple

Shared expenses

Children are expensive; there’s no denying that fact. And one of the major challenges of coparenting can be keeping track of all of the miscellaneous expenses that are involved and making sure that you are able to share that information with the other parent and make sure everything gets paid. If you’re confused on what expenses are considered shared expenses, aren’t sure when or how you need to notify the other parent of an expense, or are having trouble keeping track of everything, we’ve got the answers and some tools to help.

Types of Shared Expenses

When you’re trying to figure out what expenses are considered shared expenses, the first thing to do is to consult your custody agreement. How shared expenses are supposed to be handled is usually listed in those documents. A few of the most common types of shared expenses are covered below:

  • Medical expenses: Medical expenses are the most common type of shared expense in a copareting situation, and this is one that is almost always listed in either the custody agreement or the child support documents. In many cases, these expenses are split 50/50, but if there is a large income disparity the order may specify a different percentage, such as 80/20. These expenses are usually paid for by the primary residential parent, and then, the other parent has to reimburse the residential parent for their portion.
  • Dental expenses: These are sometimes covered under the umbrella of medical expenses, but certain dental expenses such as orthodontia are handled separately.
  • Extracurriculars: Things like gymnastics lessons, summer camp, school sports fees, and sports uniform costs all fall under the extracurricular umbrella. Extracurriculars are usually not specifically mentioned in court documents and are addressed via agreement by the two parents. In some cases, this may mean reimbursing one parent, but sometimes, both parents are able to just pay their portion directly to the provider.
  • Private school tuition: If the children are already attending a private school before the divorce, this will likely be included in the custody documents as to how the expense will be paid for in the future. If you decide to put your children in private school after the divorce, it’s a good idea to put how the expense will be divided added into the official paperwork because this is usually tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their education.
  • School supplies, clothes, and other miscellaneous expenses: These smaller expenses are ones that parents often don’t think about when going through the divorce process, but they can add up over time. Most of these expenses will be ones that you work out an agreement on who will pay what or what portion with the other parent.

In general, only things that are specifically listed in your custody documents as shared expenses will qualify in a court setting. You may still be able to agree with the other parent that you will split some things, but if they change their minds or don’t pay you back for something, it’s generally not enforceable in court unless it’s an expense covered in the order.

Guidelines for Notifying the Other Parent

In a coparenting situation, there are often times when only one parent is present for a situation that creates an expense. For example, if the residential parent has to take the child to urgent care for an illness, the other parent may not be able to be present and will need to be notified after the fact. How and when you need to notify the other parent of shared expenses might be outlined in your court documents, but if not, here are some possible options:

  • Immediate: If you have a very good coparenting relationship with easy communication and agreement, it may make the most sense to just immediately let the other parent know about an expense so they can reimburse you or pay their part directly as soon as possible. However, this can create a lot of back and forth, especially in the case of multiple children.
  • Monthly: Some parents prefer to cover expenses on a monthly basis. They may meet to present receipts and reconcile who owes who what after everything is calculated for the month. This also may make it easier for both parents to pay their parts of extracurricular fees or classes directly to the provider when the monthly bill is due.
  • Quarterly: If you don’t have great communication with the other parent and have the finances to be able to wait for reimbursement, a quarterly settlement may be a good option. You can either submit expenses as they come in or all at once at the end of the quarter, and then, the other parent usually has a certain amount of time to repay.

Another thing to consider when thinking about how and when to notify the other parent is how to present receipts. It’s generally best to submit photocopies of detailed receipts that include which child the expense was for, how much it was, who it was paid to and the date. This ensures that the other parent has everything they need to repay you or to pay the provider directly, and it also ensures you have documentation of the expense if you need to present it to the courts.

Simplifying Shared Expenses

Once you know what expenses you should be sharing with the other parent and how often you’re going to be dealing with receipts and reimbursements, it’s time to work on your method. While physical copies and checks can give you a paper trail, it’s also hard to keep track of everything and know what has been paid and what hasn’t at a glance. This is where a tool like 2houses comes in.

2houses’ finance tool was designed to give you all of the information you need in an easy-to-read manner, and it lets you handle everything from reimbursement requests to payments all within the app. It also has a variety of reporting tools either parent can use to break down expenses by things like category or time period. Here are just a few of the ways using a coparenting app like 2houses can help:

  • At-a-glance balance management: The app is set up so that you can see a balance summary at any time. This makes it easy for either parent to always know what’s been paid and what’s outstanding without having to go back and forth with the other parent.
  • In-app payments: 2houses has the capability for payments to be made in the app. This ensures that the balance is always correct and you don’t have to update anything when payments come in, and it also provides a record of payment if needed.
  • Wishlist feature: If you and the other parent are splitting expenses like birthday gifts or new clothes, the wishlist feature makes it easy to suggest what your child might want or need. This also comes in handy for the other parent’s side of the family if they need gift ideas or suggestions.
  • The ability to categorize expenses: You can tag expenses to be within certain categories, so it’s immediately clear what the money was spent for. This can also help you budget moving forward for recurring expenses. For example, if you are able to see that you usually have about $1,000 in medical expenses per child per year, this makes it easier for both parents to be able to see that and budget for their portion.
  • Exporting capabilities: While it can be helpful to have everything online where you can access it from any device, there may be times when you need paper copies. An example of this is when you need to show the courts or the child support enforcement agency proof of expenses. 2houses lets you do both CSV and PDF exports for flexibility.

Whether you’re just starting your coparenting journey and trying to make it as easy as possible or are trying to streamline expenses and communication after a few years, 2houses’ coparenting app and finance tracker can help. The key to successful coparenting is open and frequent communication, but being able to access everything with just a few clicks makes a big difference in ensuring that expenses are reported and reimbursed quickly.

Kids & Divorce: Who Pays For Summer Camp?

Who Pays For Summer Camp

39% of all marriages end in divorce. While it might not seem like a huge deal when it comes to the separation of marital assets.

There is one area that can make separation quite challenging. It can become tricky when it comes to kids & divorce because several factors need to be considered, especially in terms of summer camp cost.

We’ve created a comprehensive guide that’s going to help you navigate the summer between yourself and your former partner.

Summertime Madness

It’s summertime, and children will be spending the hours they normally spend in school at home. But, if you’re a parent who still has work obligations, you might be considering ways for your child to spend their time constructively.

All of a sudden, the idea of sending your child to summer camp comes to mind. But, there’s something else that you’ve got to think about, and that’s consulting with your former spouse about who will cover summer camp costs.

Who’s paying for summer camp? Should it be written into your custodial agreement?

We’re here to make things simpler and help you continue to have an effective and smooth co-parenting relationship. After all, it’s summer, a time to enjoy the sunshine and freedom.

Here are some things that need to be defined before you can begin to think about summer camp costs.

Your Child’s Summer Schedule

Although it’s summer, your child will still need to follow the custody schedule that was agreed upon and is legally binding. This means spending time with both parents throughout the summer.

The first thing you need to do is create a schedule for your child’s summer plans before they begin. In this schedule document, the beginning and end of each camp your child wants to participate in.

Under these camps, fill in which parent the child will be with according to your schedule underneath. You want to do this because it gives your child and both parents a visual representation of where the child will be and which parent they will be with.

This will also reduce anxiety or nervousness when it’s time for camp and serves as a reminder for both parents. If your children are young, it can help them remember what is to come during that week and helps to establish a routine, reducing the confusion they feel moving between homes.

Who Will Cover the Cost?

The next thing that you need to discuss is the cost of summer camp. The first thing you need to do is check your legal custody agreement and review it to see if it mentions summer activities as a part of the cost of custody.

In most places, the only way to determine who will foot the cost of summer camp will depend on the law in your state and area. 

If there isn’t an area in your agreement that details who will pay for your child to attend summer camp, it needs to be discussed between you and your former partner. It would help if you discussed what the cost of the following would be:

  • Summer camp
  • Summer activities
  • Summer trips

Depending on the custodial agreement in place, you might have to edit the number of camps and trips your child takes to ensure that the funds to afford them are in place. Also, if you and your former spouse cannot cover the cost of camp, we recommend checking out financial aid.

Several camps allow children to attend on financial aid scholarships when their parents cannot pay the full cost of camp. You’ve got to create a plan that will help the summer go as smoothly as possible.Creating Your Plan

When you’re creating your plan, one thing that you don’t want to do is involve your child in the discussion. The reason you want to avoid this is if you and your former spouse begin arguing about potential plans, it can cause your child anxiety and unease.

Your child should have an opinion about which camps and trips they take, but they don’t need to be a part of the detailed planning of their summer schedule, especially when you’re discussing the finance side of things.

Another thing you don’t want to do when creating your child’s summer plans is let other issues that you’ve got in your co-parenting relationship interfere. Remain focused on what you’re attempting to accomplish and work on other issues in your relationship at a later time.

In the end, you want to ensure that both of you come to an agreement that will satisfy your needs and ensure that your child will be able to have the summer that they’ve been looking forward to.

Necessity or Non-Necessity?

We understand that you still might be wondering who’s going to pay for child support? We mentioned earlier that depending on where you live, it could already be written into your custodial agreement.

That’s where the terms necessity and non-necessity come into play. Some states classify summer camp as a necessity, and if you’re in one of these areas, it will already be written into your child support agreement.

The cost paid for the camp could be based on the type of camp where they will be going for the summer. If your divorce hasn’t been finalized, you must have your attorney include summer camp in the agreement.

It’s not always easy to have the parent who doesn’t have sole custody of the child pitch in for activities that they don’t think are necessary. It’s beneficial if you prove that your child attending summer camp is a form of daycare that allows you to continue working to make money to care for your child.

Non-Necessity

While there are states that deem summer camp as a necessity, some consider it a non-necessity. If your area doesn’t see summer camp as a non-necessity, the cost of the camp will need to be considered extracurricular summer activities.

In this case, the cost of summer camp isn’t going to be written into your child custody agreement because it’s not a necessity for your child. This means that the non-custodial parent has no legal obligation to help pay for your child to attend summer camp.

Although it’s not written into your agreement because this is a form of daycare that will ensure the child(ren) are being looked after, the judge may still require the non-custodial parent to help pay for summer camp.

The reason for this is that it’s in the child’s best interest. Now that we’ve given you some background information on who will cover the cost of summer camp, there’s still more that we need to share with you.

How to Choose a Summer Camp?

After you’ve sat down and discussed who will cover the cost of your child attending summer camp, the next step is deciding where your child will go camping. Again, depending on your agreement, one parent might have more say than the other, but you want to ensure that both agree, or things could get messy.

There are several factors to consider before you both come to a decision on which summer camp will be the best for your child. Keep in mind, wherever your child goes camping, you want them to have a great time and enjoy themselves.

Summer Camp Goals

The first thing you need to think about is what are your expectations for the camp that your child will be attending. Do you want them to attend camp because you want them to have the experience of interacting with other children their age?

Or are you hoping that your child will continue to broaden their intelligence through specific summer camp activities provided by the camp you send them to? Setting your expectations will narrow down the list of summer camp options your child has to choose from.

Camp Types

If the purpose of your child attending summer camp is daycare-based because you’ve got to work during the day, think about this when choosing the type of summer camp they’ll attend. There is a day camp where your child will attend for a couple of hours a day and then be picked up by their legal guardian.

If you’re working from home and need to keep your child preoccupied constructively, we recommend looking into virtual summer camps. Virtual summer camps are offered online due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to control the outbreak of the virus during the summer.

A virtual summer camp might require you purchase some items for your home that can be used while your child is online. The last camp you might consider for your child is an overnight camp.

Overnight camps last a couple of days or weeks, depending on the age of your child. This is better for older children and can handle being away from their parents for longer periods.

But, again, no matter what camp your child is being sent to, you and your former partner must agree on where they’re being sent. As well as what type of camp it is.

Camp Genres

Yes, you read that right you need to consider the genre of the camp. Tons of camps specialize in specific things. If you’re sending your child to a traditional camp, they’ll have the typical experience.

They’ll spend time singing around the campfire and engaging in several outdoor activities with other kids their age. If you wish for your child to continue learning and not forget what they were taught in school, you’ll need to find a camp that focuses on providing academic services.

If your child has special needs, the camp you sign them up for should be equipped to handle their needs. Is the environment provided conducive to improving their mental and physical state while ensuring that they have the time of their lives?

Think About the Instructors

The instructors at the camp are just as important as the camp that you send your child(ren) to. Find a camp whose instructors are invested in ensuring that your child has fun at summer camp every time they are there.

A good camp instructor should be someone that enjoys working with children and has a passion for helping them thrive in any situation. If you’re not sure how to determine if the instructors at a camp will be the right fit for your child, check out the camp’s website.

Most camps will typically have an area where you can review the instructors and learn a bit more about them before signing your child up for camp.

Set a Budget

One of the largest things to think about is how much it’ll cost for your child to attend summer camp. If funds are tight between parents, it’s ideal to find a camp that won’t put a huge dent in your pocket while still providing your child what they need.

Both parents should be open and honest about what they can afford to put towards summer camp if it’s not listed in your child custody agreement.

Kids & Divorce: Sweet Summertime

Summertime is a common topic when it comes to kids & divorce. Which parent will be responsible for covering the cost of summer camp?

Which summer camp will your child attend, and for how long? We’ve provided you the answers you’ve been searching for above.

If you need help managing your child’s schedule over the summer, don’t waste any more time and get started by contacting 2houses. It’ll make it easier for both parents to stay on top of their children’s schedule and input information where changes need to be made.

What are Legally Shared Expenses for Children After a Divorce

Legally Shared Expenses

The divorce process can prove challenging for parents. Deciding what to do with your children during a separation is one of the most important decisions that you must make.

For instance, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll share expenses for the kids. There are many different ways that you might divide expenses.

The right solution for you will vary depending on where you live and your circumstances. However, a few pointers might make managing these decisions easier.

To learn more about the legally shared expenses for children after a divorce, continue reading.

Contemplating Legally Shared Expenses

Ending a marriage is challenging on many levels, especially when a child is involved. There’s a lot at stake. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the points involved in the finances of co-parenting.

During the separation process, you’ll split assets that you’ve accumulated over many years. Now, you’ll need to find common ground to support your child until they become an adult.

The court system compels separating couples to enter a divorce decree. It details the conditions of the separation.

For example, it might establish alimony and child support payments. It will also establish a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent.

Furthermore, the decree will establish new beneficiaries for any financial assets. It will also divide any shared debts.

While you work through these conditions, some of the hardest things to do are to simultaneously focus on now and plan for the future. However, you must advocate for yourself and your family during this process.

The separation process is your opportunity to seek what’s best for yourself and your child. The court will take this point into consideration when you file the decree.

Most importantly, it’s important that everyone involved has their voice heard in order to establish an appropriate plan of action moving forward.

Some Common Legally Shared Expenses

In many cases, divorcing couples establish child support to cover the care of their offspring. These payments may go toward child care.

They may also go toward activities and college tuition. Child support also covers basic necessities such as food and clothing.

Sometimes, however, parents disagree over whether child support should cover all of their child’s expenses. Alternatively, they may disagree whether parents should split various costs.

With this in mind, the following entries offer a closer look at child-rearing expenses.

Daily Necessities H3

The idea of child support is to protect the interests of children. Ideally, it shields them from the economic impact of a divorce. Also, it helps them to maintain their standard of living.

Child support provides assistance for the parent with primary custody. It helps them to meet their child’s basic needs. It also helps the custodial parent maintain the standard of living they enjoyed while they were married.

Necessities include food, clothing and shelter. They might also include other basic needs such as personal hygiene products.

When parents get divorced, the law may expect them to either share these expenses equally or based on their incomes. However, in some cases, this isn’t always possible. In such a case, it’s in the child’s best interests if both parties can come up with an agreement about how they’ll handle their shared child-rearing responsibilities and costs.

Extra Expenses H3

Not all expenses are covered by child support. For instance, child support might not cover sports activities, school excursions or music lessons.

Also, child support usually doesn’t cover large expenses. Typically, a parent can expect to incur this kind of expense as a child grows older. For example, a teen that’s transitioning into adulthood will most likely want a car and need auto insurance.

Post-Secondary Education H3

In most states, the age of majority is 18 years old. Usually, child support ends at this time. In some states, however, child support will continue beyond the age of majority to cover college expenses.

This kind of child support is considered post-minority or post-secondary support. The terms of this kind of support may vary in different states.

For example, the noncustodial parent might pay post-minority support in addition to child support. Alternatively, they may pay it as part of child support. In some instances, a noncustodial parent might make a separate post-minority child support payment after regular child support comes to an end.

Extracurricular Education and Healthcare H3

Some states include health insurance, work-related child care and uninsured medical expenses in their support calculations. It’s a part of their formula for figuring out basic child support.

In other states, however, a judge may designate a separate payment. This payment will go toward your children’s medical expenses, child care and education-related expenses.

Education expenses, for example, may include tuition or tutoring. Here, it’s helpful to understand that these items are separate from the basic child support calculation.

These expenses could include participation in sports or music activities. If the court deems these activities a necessary part of the child’s education, it might order payment for these activities as a part of child support.

Expense Disputes

Sometimes, parents can’t agree on necessary child support expenses. They also have conflicts over who should pay for it.

In these cases, a judge may need to intervene. Typically, the court will divide the responsibility of paying for extra expenses.

The court will begin this process by examining each parent’s income. It will also consider which parent wants their child to participate in the activity.

Also, the court will assess whether a child has participated in this activity in the past. It may also assess why each parent supports or opposes the activity. After measuring these points, the court may modify the child support order to address these expenses.

Finding Common Ground

In most instances, child support doesn’t cover expenses beyond bare necessities. As a result, it’s helpful if parents can reach their own agreement.

In some cases, separating couples incorporate this agreement into their divorce decree. It becomes a part of their parenting plan.

There are times when separating couples will make these kinds of agreements very specific. Often, however, this kind of agreement can prove restrictive.

What’s worse, they can fail to accommodate all necessary expenses. Frequently, a problem in this area will arise when there’s a large disparity in the income of the parents.

Sometimes, these kinds of arrangements work, and sometimes they don’t. Most often, however, it’s difficult for them to succeed. In the end, it depends on the parents.

When managing financial issues with your children, it’s always better for parents to maintain a civil arrangement. This kind of arrangement means coming to terms with cost-sharing even if it’s not in the divorce decree. In most cases, this kind of common ground ends up benefiting both parents—and the child.

The Realities of Separation

Ending a marriage is always unpleasant on some level. Unfortunately, this kind of unpleasantness frequently manifests when it comes to child-related expenses. As a parent, however, it’s important to minimize conflict in this area as much as possible.

It helps to have a discussion with your spouse before finalizing your divorce. During this conversation, you should try to come to an agreement about how you’ll share your child’s expenses.

Eventually, you’ll develop a clear agreement in your divorce decree. However, relying solely on your divorce papers can turn into a minefield. Sticking to the letter of your decree can lead to unneeded disputes.

Also, it can fuel competition between you and your ex-partner. For example, without an amicable separation, parents might compete over enrolling their children in a preferred activity. Disputes can also arise over your child’s technology needs.

In many cases, the parent who does all the signing up and enrolling can feel like they’re carrying all the responsibility. They can feel like they’re covering all the expenses and not getting reimbursed.

Over time, this debt can accumulate. When this happens, the parent typically resorts to legal action. However, it’s in your child’s best interest to address this issue before it becomes a legal matter.

Ideally, you and your ex-spouse share decision-making. In this scenario, neither of you should end up blindsided by expenses.

When enrolling your child in extracurricular activities, it’s helpful to begin by talking to your spouse. You may even have to have this conversation every semester.

Some parents, however, must negotiate these activities in the parenting plan of their divorce decree. This circumstance typically arises when one parent doesn’t support a current activity.

It might also arise when the activity results in a significant expense. It could also come up if the child activity cuts into parenting time.

A Step in the Right Direction

It’s easy to suggest amicable co-parenting. However, challenges do arise in this regard.

Some parents want their children involved in extracurricular activities every day. Others feel that a single sport each season is enough.

If you’re going to include activities and your parenting plan, it’s a good idea to leave room for flexibility. Also, make sure that the plan incorporates the child’s preferences.

In general, it’s important to clearly share any expenses related to the activity. If you expect the other parent to support the activity financially, then you should have a clear list of what those expenses entail.

Balancing Expenses With Fairness H3

Most separating parents opt for an alternative to paying for specific items. Instead, they usually agree to share costs equally. Alternatively, they might share costs based on their income according to child support calculations.

In theory, this method allows for changes in proportion as child support changes. However, it’s very rare that this happens. Most often, parents don’t want to relive going through court.

If you and your ex-spouse disagree on activities, sometimes, the answer lies in who pays. For example, you might want your child to participate in an activity, but the other parent is not supportive. Yet, they may agree to the activity if you agree to cover all the expenses for it.

It’s also important to make sure that the activity doesn’t interfere with the other parent’s time with your child. If the activity takes place during their parenting time, they should agree to it.

A divorce decree serves as a guideline. With one, however, there are still many details to work out along the way.

When it comes to accounting for shared expenses, things can get tricky. This area can prove especially problematic when multiple children are involved.

Again, it can also prove troublesome if there’s a large disparity in income. In these cases, you’ll want to put forth the extra effort to resolve who foots the bill.

A Solution for Sharing Expenses and More

After a separation, you’ll have a lot of things to figure out together every day. For instance, you’ll need to figure out who’ll pay for and actually purchase your child’s school supplies.

In some cases, you’ll need to figure out how to receive reimbursement from the other parent. You’ll also need to come up with a way to negotiate unplanned expenses.

With so many things to consider, how will you keep track of it all? Fortunately, a co-parenting app—such as 2houses—can make the process easier. You can use it to better manage finances and the other affairs of your two houses.

For instance, a co-parenting app will allow you to share messages with each other about your child easily. It will also give you access to a shared calendar.

You can use the calendar to keep track of scheduled visits and other important dates. Also, you can use the co-parenting app to keep track of shared expenses and send real-time reimbursement requests.

A Co-Parenting App for Peaceful Child Rearing

Now you know more about the legally shared expenses for children after a divorce. What you need now is a powerful technology for harmonious co-parenting.

2houses is the child custody tool that helps parents navigate co-parenting after a divorce or separation, so they can focus on what matters most—their children. It’s easy to use, affordable and available anywhere in the world.

Our goal is simple—to give you more time with your kids and make sure they’re safe and happy. What’s more, we’ll do all of this without breaking the bank or taking up too much of your valuable time.

See for yourself. Please feel free to take a look at our features to learn more about a better way to manage two houses.

How to Share Expenses for Kids After a Divorce

Shared expenses for kids

Children cost a lot of money. The average middle-income household should expect to spend more than $230,000 on raising their child. That’s around $13,000 per year. 

After a divorce, covering expenses for kids gets tricky. The expenses cost the same amount, but the means of paying for them can be difficult to determine. 

How can you start a dialogue with your ex about covering them? How should you take care of your own finances? What expenses should you be mindful of, and how do they change over time? 

Answer these questions, and you can support your child into their adulthood. Here is your quick guide. 

Talk to Your Co-Parent About Expenses for Kids 

Talking about money can be exhausting. Make sure you take a break after you separate from your ex. Take a few weeks to rebuild your confidence so you can negotiate on a strong footing. 

When you feel rejuvenated, you can turn to your finances. Go to a financial advisor and accountant and talk about sharing expenses with your ex.

Get a list of the expenses you should expect to cover. Figure out the ways that you are going to cover your payments on your end. 

Then turn to your ex. You can talk to them by yourself, through an intermediary, or with lawyers. But you should engage with them about your mutual expenses. 

Tell them what things you need to cover and how you will cover them. This can encourage your ex to think about the ways they will pay. This also establishes trust so you can continue the conversation. 

Most co-parents split the expenses 50-50. If you both have similar amounts of money, you can do this. 

But you are not required to. If one co-parent earns more than the other, they can pay for more. 

You can match the payments to your custody schedule. If you pursue an 80/20 custody schedule, the parent with primary custody can pay 80 percent of the expenses.

If you decide on an inequal payment approach, you should not tell your child about your decision. It can lead them to believe that the parent who is paying less does not love them. 

Keep the conversation focused on expenses for your kids. Talk about alimony and living arrangements on another occasion. 

Your conversation can touch upon child support. If a court is requiring one co-parent to pay, talk about where the money should go. 

Develop a Communication System 

When you have decided on a payment approach, you next need to come up with a schedule. Figure out when you need to pay for things, including yearly. 

It would be best if you gave each other reminders on when payments are due. If one of you cannot expect to cover something, you should tell the other that. 

Whenever possible, the two of you should talk face to face. This makes for a direct line of communication that avoids confusion. 

If the two of you are living far apart, you can talk over the phone. Try to avoid text messages or emails unless you are sending over documents. 

You can download a co-parenting app. The app has a calendar that you can schedule your payments with. You can also track your finances, including when shared expenses are pending. 

Take Care of Your Finances

You have your own expenses to cover. After a divorce, you may need to pay more money than you did previously. You may need to cover the cost of a new house and food. 

Make sure you are taking care of yourself. If you run out of money, you won’t be able to pay for your child.

Write down a personal budget that itemizes each cost you need to pay for. Look at what revenue streams you have and see where the money should go first. If you are spending money on something useless, you should stop. 

When you have multiple debts, develop a way to pay them off. You can adopt the debt avalanche method. This involves making minimum payments on your debts and throwing extra money on the ones with high interest. 

Consider starting an expense fund. Each of you can add a little money into it each week. This gives you a safety net that lets you pay for sudden costs. 

Figure out what you will use the fund for. You can cover a regular expense in addition to an unexpected one. You can open one with your ex or on your own.

You may decide to move in with someone else. Your new partner can cover some of your personal expenses.

But you should be the one to pay for your child. It is your responsibility to make sure your child’s needs are met.

Your new partner can pay if they want to, but you should not expect them to do so. They should not expect anything in return for their payments. 

How to Cover Shared Expenses

The more you break down your individual expenses, the easier it will be to cover them. Each type of expense has its own trajectory. Some cost more through time, while others are stable.

Keep in mind that any discussion of expenses involves hypothetical estimates. You have to track how your finances are doing in real-time and adjust your payment approach. 

Housing 

29 percent of the money you spend on your child will go toward housing. This makes it the single-biggest shared expense. 

How you compensate for housing depends on what your living arrangements are. If one of you owns a house with a mortgage, the owner should take the lead in covering the mortgage. The other parent can pay if interest rates are substantial. 

If both of you pay weekly rent, each of you can focus on your own rent payments. You can help your ex when they need a little help. You should step in if they are facing foreclosure. 

Your child should have their own bed wherever they live. If possible, they should have their own bedroom in both residences.

This means that you may have to buy things for it like a drawer or nightstand. If that is the case, you should expect to pay for those yourself.

Medical Expenses

Both of you should pay equal amounts to your child’s health insurance. Their insurance should cover most costs, including doctor’s visits. 

No insurance plan is comprehensive. Have a conversation with your ex about how you will pay for additional medical services. 

You must develop a plan for this well in advance. Your child can develop a medical condition without warning. Set money aside in your personal or expense account. 

If your child has a chronic health condition, you should expect to pay more. Adjust your personal budget, so you spend less on yourself. If they have a condition that might deteriorate, talk about ways you can cover future costs. 

Medical expenses include mental health expenses. If your child needs psychological therapy, both of you should contribute toward it. 

Food 

You should pay for your child’s food while they are living with you. If you and your co-parent are sharing a meal with your child, you can contribute equal amounts. 

There are ways you can keep your expenses down. Plan your meals out in advance. Find a day during the week where you can shop and purchase your food at once. 

Cook meals with inexpensive ingredients like fresh produce and beans. This will save you money and create healthy meals.  

You can use coupons or go to the store during a sale. But coupons and sales are often for processed and unhealthy foods. Pick your sales, so you create healthy meals for your child. 

Try to avoid ordering takeout. Takeout may be more convenient than cooking meals, but it is also more expensive when you do order it, select dishes that you can make multiple meals out of. 

School Supplies 

Your child will need new supplies at the start of every school year. This includes notebooks, binders, and paper. 

As your child gets older, you may need to pay for textbooks. These can be expensive. 

Both of you should pay for supplies. Save up a little extra money as you reach the end of the summer. Go to stores like Staples that run back-to-school sales. 

You can reuse most supplies, including binders. Tell your child to preserve them with duct tape as the school year goes on. 

College Tuition 

The average four-year public college costs $56,840. Keep in mind that this is the expense of college right now. Tuition costs have grown through time, so you may need to pay more when your child turns 18. 

If you have not started saving money, you should start doing so right now. You may need to find an additional revenue stream to cover tuition expenses. 

If you have started saving money, keep doing so. You should not stop during or after the divorce process. 

As your child approaches college, you can start examining financial aid programs. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid lets students with separated parents apply for financial aid.

The application includes a section about one parent’s finances. Listing the co-parent who makes less money increases your child’s chances of getting aid. 

When your child picks a school, they should also apply for financial aid there. Most schools take into account the disposable income of co-parents. If two co-parents have to pay for their own costs, the school will give more financial aid. 

Clothes 

Clothes are a substantial expense because children grow so rapidly. A child should have a week’s worth of clothes at any given time. They should have seven bottoms and tops.

Get clothes made from sturdy materials. Blue jeans resist wear and tear. Sweatpants are thick and breathable, letting your child run around without breaking the material. 

They should also have at least seven pairs of undergarments. It may be a good idea to buy more in case your child has an emergency. They should have a good pair of shoes. 

Little children often put holes in their clothes. When that happens, try sewing the hole closed or patching it up. 

Young children do not need formal wear. A shirt and pants with neutral colors suffice for an event like a wedding. If you do want to get them formal clothes, you can find cheap versions from online retailers. 

Communicate with your ex when you think your child needs a new set of clothes. Buy clothes whenever one of you feels it is warranted. Both of you should contribute. 

Recreational Activities and Vacations 

Your child may go to summer camp, which can cost thousands of dollars per year. As they get older, they may participate in hobbies and extracurricular activities with registration fees. 

For the time being, try to pay equal amounts for your child’s recreation. If one of you becomes involved in an activity they do, that person can take the lead on paying for it. 

The parent conducting a vacation should pay for it. It is unreasonable to expect the other parent to pay for something that they are not participating in. 

Provide the Best For Your Child 

You and your co-parent can cover expenses for kids. Once you are ready, take a look at your financial picture. Talk to your co-parent and develop a plan with a payment schedule.

Make sure you are financially healthy. Pay off your debts using a particular scheme and find additional revenue streams. 

Housing, healthcare, food, and school supplies are immediate problems. Save up money and contribute equal amounts. Be prepared to spend money on college tuition, clothes, and recreation. 

Divorce does not have to be disruptive. 2Houses supplies co-parents with essential information. Read our guide on long-distance parenting

What the Child Support Modification Process Actually Looks Like

child support modification

There are nearly 14 million single parents in America with custody of their children. Around half of those have some form of child support arrangement in place. 

Almost 90 percent of such agreements are court-ordered. Most were established at the time of separation. 

But what happens when your needs or life circumstances change? Requesting a child support modification is possible but it’s important to understand the process before you jump in.  

Keep reading to learn how it works and to get powerful co-parenting tips that can make the process easier for everyone.

Who Can Request a Child Support Modification?

Child support modifications can be requested by:

  • The custodial parent
  • The non-custodial parent
  • Other legal caregivers

In rare cases, a state or local child support agency may request a child support review. This typically happens when other legal proceedings bring inappropriate child support agreements to the agency’s attention. 

When Can You Ask for a Child Support Modification?

The child support review process is serious and always requires court involvement. For this reason, there are legal limits on when and how often parents can undergo it. 

Generally, parties can request modifications when the:

  • Child’s needs have changed
  • Custodial parent’s circumstances have changed
  • Non-custodial parent’s circumstances have changed
  • Child support agreement is more than three years old
  • Relevant child support laws have changed

For example, you might request a child support payment review if: 

  • You or your ex have changed jobs or experienced a significant change of income
  • You or your ex have remarried or had more children
  • Your custody arrangement has changed 
  • Your child’s health needs or access to health insurance has changed
  • You have suffered a health crisis or other emergency
  • The non-custodial parent becomes incarcerated, is deployed by the United States military, or becomes disabled  

Custodial Parents or Caregivers

It can be tempting for custodial parents to request child support reviews regularly in hopes of receiving more support. It is important to resist that temptation, however. 

This is because there are hard limits to how often you may request a child support modification. Child support laws vary by state, but almost all states limit parents to one or two reviews every 24 to 36 months.

If you ask for reviews over small changes in your ex’s income, you can quickly use up your allotted requests with very little to show for it. Once your requests are used up, you will not be able to petition for any other changes until the 24 or 36 month waiting period has elapsed.

If your circumstances, your child’s needs, or your ex’s income change during that time, you will be unable to request the additional support you might otherwise have been entitled to until the waiting period ends.

To avoid finding yourself in that unpleasant and stressful situation, only request reviews when they are truly warranted. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you expect to see a change of at least 20 percent or $100 a month to your support payments. 

Non-Custodial Parents

Non-custodial parents should be careful when requesting child support modifications, as well.

Generally, courts will only entertain requests from non-custodial parents to alter child support payments when they have experienced a sharp drop in their income or serious changes to their health. In every case, courts require that non-custodial parents be able to clearly document their change in circumstances and show that it is significant enough to warrant altering the agreement. 

It is also important to be aware of the specific laws in your state. For example, in many states choosing to quit your job does not merit a change to your child support payments.

You will still be expected to continue paying the same amount on time each month. Failure to do so can have grave consequences. You may wish to consider consulting a child support lawyer before making big changes to your employment or income. 

Losing Income

With all of that said, if your circumstances do dramatically and involuntarily change, it is important to act quickly. 

Your existing child support requirements do not change when your circumstances change, even if those changes are out of your control. Payments are not altered or suspended when you request a review. You remain responsible for your pre-existing level of support unless or until new terms are approved by the court. 

Child support cannot be retroactively altered or reduced, either. Even applying for bankruptcy will not eliminate back payments due.

Thus, if you lose your job or take a much lower-paying job, it is critical that you apply for a child support review immediately. In the meantime, keep making your payments to the best of your ability to demonstrate good faith. 

Temporary Modifications

Not all changes to child support payments need to be permanent. In many cases, courts will approve temporary child support modifications in response to short-term or emergency circumstances. 

Common examples include when: 

  • Your child experiences a costly medical emergency or requires surgery
  • The non-custodial parent has a medical emergency or significant temporary change to finances
  • Your child is temporarily entrusted to the non-custodial parent when the custodial parent is unable to take care of them

In most cases, temporary modifications last only as long as the emergency or special circumstances that prompted them. When the situation is resolved, both parties revert to the terms of their previous agreement.

Permanent Modifications 

Permanent modifications to child support are appropriate when circumstances permanently change for the child or one or both of the parents involved. This includes changes to:

  • Income
  • Health
  • Family composition 
  • Cost of living

Changes to relevant child support laws can also prompt permanent changes to your child support agreement. 

What Information Will You Need to Request a Child Support Review?

One of the steps most overlooked by parents investigating how to modify child support is gathering information. The court will not simply take anyone’s word for changes to their life, income, or needs. To request a child support payment review, you will need to be able to document your claims. 

Depending on your circumstances and the basis of your request, this can include providing proof of: 

  • Parental income
  • Parents’ benefits (including health insurance) 
  • Child care costs
  • Health records
  • Incarceration or deployment status 
  • Remarriage or the birth of a new child
  • Existing custody arrangements 

In the event that your income has dropped, you may also be required to provide evidence that you made or are making good-faith attempts to find new employment. Specifically, the court may look to see that you searching for work that pays the same amount as your previous position or more. If you are not, you may need to explain the discrepancy. 

Uncontested Changes

If you are fortunate, you and your ex have been able to forge a friendship in the wake of your divorce. If so, you may be able to amicably negotiate new child support terms between yourselves or with the help of a private mediator. 

These arrangements still need to be ratified by the court. Often, however, you can skip the formal hearing in favor of a faster, more informal “in-office negotiation” to get that approval. This is less costly and less stressful for everyone, making it a great option if your circumstances allow. 

How the Child Support Modification Process Works

Unfortunately, healthy and positive communication with your ex isn’t always possible. In that case, you’ll need to rely on your state’s formal child support review process for modifications. The exact process can vary slightly from state to state, so it vital that you consult your state’s laws or a legal professional to ensure you follow the steps correctly. 

In general, however, the process looks like this. 

1. Gather Information

Get certified copies of whatever records you need to prove changes to your costs, living situation, or health, where relevant. If you are applying for a modification because you believe that your ex’s income has changed, the court will require them to provide that information. 

You may also wish to consult a lawyer during this step. 

2. Apply to the Court

In most states, you submit your request for a child support review to the court that handled your initial child support order. If you are struggling with unpaid child support or require other assistance, it may be helpful to contact your state’s child support agency instead. They can assist you with the process. 

3. Attend the Hearing

The court will schedule a hearing to conduct your child support payment review. If you have secured legal counsel, your lawyer will attend with you. Bring copies of your documentation and be prepared to explain your situation and why you think changes are warranted. 

The judge assigned to your case will review the facts and determine what changes, if any, are appropriate. If they find that changes are warranted, they will modify your child support agreement and specify when the changes go into effect. Be sure to obtain a new copy of your agreement for your records. 

Automatic Adjustments 

In some states, such as California, child support agreements can contain automatic adjustment clauses. The cost of living adjustment is a prime example. Automatic adjustment clauses call for child support payments to automatically be modified at set intervals based on external factors. 

For example, each year your payments may be adjusted to compensate for increases in the cost of living in your area. You do not need to request these changes and they will not count against your allotted review requests. 

The court will keep track of when these are due, calculate the new rates, and notify both parties when the changes go into effect.  

How Long Does It Take?

There is no set time limit on the child support review process. Typically, when you file for a review the court is required to respond to or act on your filing within a certain amount of time. For example, they may have to notify your ex of the filing within 180 days. 

How long it takes to complete the process will depend on, among other things: 

  • The availability of court resources
  • Your ex’s cooperativeness
  • The complexity of your case

For example, if the court has difficulty locating your ex to serve them with papers or if they are incarcerated or deployed and difficult to get ahold of, going through the review may be a slow process. Similarly, if either party is alleging medical conditions the court may require second opinions, expert consultations, or other steps that delay reaching a decision. 

Simple cases in which both parties cooperate and have good documentation upfront will, of course, go the fastest. 

Hiring a Lawyer

You are not legally required to hire a lawyer to assist you during a child support review. It is legal in every state to initiate the process and represent yourself from start to finish. Unless you and your ex have a highly amicable divorce, however, it is always in your best interest to hire legal counsel.

In all cases, if your ex has a lawyer then you need one, too.  

Family law attorneys understand how to modify child support in your state. They have a deep understanding of the standards, loopholes, and other details that can make or break your case. Their assistance can make the difference between setting up child support arrangements that genuinely provide the best outcomes for your children and muddling through with agreements that serve no one.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, talk to your state’s child support agency. They can provide you with an attorney or assist you in finding qualified and affordable legal services. 

What Does Requesting a Child Support Payment Review Cost?

It is impossible to put a single number or range on the costs of a child support payment review and modification. Costs not only vary by state, but by the situation. 

Uncontested cases that merely need rubber-stamping by a judge are always the most affordable. Contentious and complicated cases are understandably more likely to be expensive. At the same time, free or low-cost legal services can enable qualifying applicants to deal with even the messiest of cases for little or no money at all. 

If cost is a concern, contact your local child support agency for help and guidance. 

Handling Divorce and Child Support Well

Handling child support modification cases is only one of the challenges involved in dealing with divorce in a healthy, positive way. Strong co-parenting skills can make this and other day-to-day concerns easier and less stressful to deal with. Check out 2houses’s great library of co-parenting tips and articles to get more information on building your best life after divorce.  

Under What Circumstances Am I Eligible for Child Support Payments?

Child support payments

Of the 13.6 million custodial single parents living in the US, about half of them had some type of legal or informal child support agreement in place in 2018.

If you’re a single parent, you should have a basic understanding of child support eligibility. Every parent in the US must contribute financially to the raising of his or her child—unless parental rights have been legally terminated. 

Child support eligibility and amount varies depending on your individual needs and circumstances. Keep reading for an overview of child support and the eligibility requirements that allow for child support payments.

What Is Child Support?

As a child matures, the parents have a financial responsibility to support them. It’s assumed that—if you are the custodial parent— you will fulfill your financial obligation. However, if your child doesn’t live with your ex, they may have to pay support to you.

Child support payments are ordered by a court and are required until your child reaches the age of 18, is active-duty military, or the court declares your child emancipated. The non-custodial parent may be required to make payments beyond childhood if your child has special needs. 

If you agree that the non-custodial parent no longer has to pay child support, the court may legally terminate their parental rights and any financial responsibility. They may also do this if someone else adopts your child.

Responsibility for Child Support Begins with Custody

While each state has different guidelines, the court typically determines the final amount of child support payments. The judge begins the discussion of child support with custody. 

The non-custodial parent is typically responsible for most of the child support if you have sole custody. If you’re a stay-at-home provider or work part-time to care for your child, you may not be able to financially support the child on their own. The child support payment amount will reflect this.

Joint Custody and Child Support

When parents share joint custody, calculating child support payments is more complicated. Determining child support payments in joint custody cases usually accounts for two factors.

The first factor is the percentage each parent contributed to the joint income during their marriage. The parent who contributed more to the joint income will pay more towards child support.

The second factor is the percentage of time each parent has physical custody of the child. The court will assume that whoever has the child more often will assume most of the financial responsibility. The parent that spends less time with your child will pay more because the other parent devotes more of their physical, financial, and emotional resources. 

It would be easier to determine child support payments if there was a clear-cut formula, but that’s not the case. The amount depends on individual factors that are unique to each custody situation and child. 

How Child Support Payment Amounts Are Determined

To determine amounts of child support, the court looks at the parents’ income and the time each parent has physical custody. 

The court may identify income in several ways, including:

  • Wages
  • Tips
  • Commissions
  • Social Security benefits
  • Self-employment earnings
  • Bonuses
  • Annuities
  • Interest
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Private or Government Retirement benefits
  • Pensions

Determining Child Support for Previously Unmarried Parents

Don’t make the mistake of thinking someone doesn’t owe child support because they were never married to the other parent. 

Unmarried parents are still responsible for child support, but determining the amount becomes more complicated. Whether the child ever lived with both of you, your resources, the non-custodial parent’s income, and the ability to make payments factor into determining the amount of child support. 

The time each of you actually spends with your child will also come into play. 

Just as is the case for divorced parents, children are entitled to support from parents who were never married. Stepparents, however, don’t need to legally financially support their stepchildren. They can adopt the children, but this would terminate the biological parent’s requirement to pay.

Additional Factors that Affect Child Support Requirements

Don’t go into child support proceedings blind. Know what to expect by acquainting yourself with the process in your state.

Once a judge sets custody and reviews the unique circumstances of your case, he or she will set the number and amount of support payments based on several factors, including:

  • Your child’s quality of life prior to the parents’ divorce 
  • The income of the parent who has to pay child support 
  • All expenses associated with providing for your child
  • The specific needs of your child
  • The income and other resources available to you

The more a parent earns, the more they will be expected to pay in child support. Courts are good at recognizing financial hardship, and they’re able to calculate what a non-custodial parent needs to live while supporting the child. 

Judges also look at what your family’s living conditions were prior to the split. If your child is used to a high standard of living, the non-custodial parent may have to pay enough to help your child maintain that quality of life. 

The court also takes into account the resources you, as the custodial parent, has access to. If you make a good income, the other parent may not have to pay as much. They’ll also look at your support system, including any family members that help financially. 

Adjusting Child Support Payments

Child support payment requirements are listed in court orders, so it takes legal action to amend them. However, any change in circumstances may mean your child support payments must be revised. 

If you decrease the time your child is physically in your custody, and they spend more time with the non-custodial parent, the court may lower your child support payments. A judge might also reduce child support payments if the parent paying support loses their job and is unemployed. They may do the same if the other parent is forced to take a job that pays less.

Judges are not as accommodating to parents who quit their job out of laziness, to pursue a hobby, or to go back to school. They do look at getting fired differently than voluntarily leaving a job—especially if it seems like the parent quit their job to avoid making child support payments. 

Temporary changes to child support payments are granted when emergency strikes, or if the non-custodial parent is facing short-term financial hardship. At the same time, you may receive extra child support if you suddenly experience financial difficulties. 

You must go to court to have child support amounts legally changed, even if you agree to changes to the payments. 

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

Because the court sets the amount of child support payments, they can take action if the non-custodial parent refuses to pay. Consequences include:

  • Property seizure
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • Suspension of your business license
  • Tax refund interception
  • Arrest and time in jail
  • Wage garnishment

It’s vital that the non-custodial parent notifies the court if it’s suddenly difficult for them to pay support as ordered before the problem gets out of control. Most judges have no patients for missed child support payments, so they must be upfront and honest about any financial hardship. 

What Happens if Payments Stop?

If you’re receiving child support and the other parent stops paying, you must contact your state or district attorney. State agencies must help you collect any delinquent child support payments—this is according to federal law. 

See if your state has a Recovery Services office. They will help you track down the other parent and recover missed payments that are owed to you.

As you can see, it’s essential to keep records of the payments received, as well as copies of the court orders that establish the payments and schedule. You can easily get the help you need to collect delinquent payments with this information. 

Is Support Connected to Visitation?

In some cases, parents threaten to withhold payments amid visitation disagreements. 

If you don’t let the other parent see your child as ordered by the court, your ex cannot retaliate by withholding or threatening to withhold child support payments. This practice is illegal and is hurtful to your child. 

The court views visitation and child support as separate issues. Never withhold visitation because you’re expecting a payment that hasn’t arrived yet. If the non-custodial parent doesn’t get to exercise their visitation rights, they can take you and any evidence to the court to have the agreement enforced. 

Each of you should do your part in providing for your child and ensure visitation isn’t disrupted when there are disagreements over support.

Income Taxes and Child Support

Do you have to pay income taxes on child support from your ex on behalf of your children? No. And the parent who pays child support cannot deduct it from their income. 

Can I Claim My Child as a Dependent?

Whichever one of you claims your child as a dependent on your taxes is eligible to receive a significant tax deduction. 

In most cases, whoever has the child for most of the year claims him or her as a dependent. Both parents can’t claim the same dependent—only one of you can claim your child on a tax return. 

If you and your ex cannot agree, it’s best to get a knowledgeable tax attorney involved. You and the non-custodial parent might be on the same page about who claims your child as a dependent. Either way, it can help to have an experienced tax attorney work out the intimate details of the deduction.

Can the Dependent Tax Exemption Be Transferred?

For each individual claimed as a dependent, the IRS allows a taxpayer a single exemption. 

There are cases in which the non-custodial parent can receive an exemption for your child. If you complete and sign Form 8332, you can transfer the exemption to the other parent. The other parent should file the form with their tax return.

If you make a low-income and won’t benefit from the exemption, you might choose to transfer your exemption. 

If your ex has a higher adjusted gross income and can benefit from the deduction, they can do something in return for the deduction. You can even use this as a bargaining child in divorce settlement negotiations.

You can also arrange to allocate the dependents between the two of you if you have multiple children. The best thing to do is to check with your attorney and work out a situation that benefits everyone involved.  

It’s possible to agree in this situation, especially if the two of you find yourselves in different income tax brackets. 

Don’t Miss Out On Child Support Payments

Raising a child comes with a financial burden, especially when single. 

If you’re the custodial parent to your child, you must ensure you receive your legally granted child support from your ex. 

Make sure you understand your state’s laws associated with child support payments, and always keep records of any payments received. You never know when you might have to prove that the other parent is delinquent on payments. 

Have you been searching for resources on paying or receiving child support? What challenges have you faced? Do you have experiences to share? Share this article with your comments to help others as they search for answers. 

The Complete Guide That Makes Managing Co-Parenting Expenses Simple

Co-parenting

As 40 to 50% of US marriages end in divorce, chances are many of us will face the changes that come with separating from a spouse. When there are children involved and finances to manage, the situation is far more intimidating.

If you and your ex are co-parenting with a joint custody schedule, you may already realize that agreeing on a fair way to split child expenses it harder than it seems.

Life isn’t linear, especially when it comes to children, so there’s no secret formula to budgeting for co-parents. You can let a mediator or judge decide how to divide your cash—from everything from shoes to college—but what if your child wants to play sports? Or go to an amusement park with friends? It may be no big deal to you, but your ex may not have the resources to support those activities. 

If one of you can’t meet your financial obligations, you may have to suffer through some difficult conversations. Keep reading for tips on navigating these conversations, creating a budget, and saving money as a co-parent.

Tips for Managing Co-Parenting Expenses

When managing co-parenting expenses, both people must improvise and compromise. Every individual, couple, and divorce is different, so there is no single answer. 

As you search for an answer as to how to split clothing, activities, and other expenses, try the following tips.

Learn How to Communicate

Many couples make communication harder than it already is. Both parties should hear out the other person’s point of view. Sure, one parent may “win,” but you also may be able to meet in the middle. 

Parents are more likely to be amicable to each other and agree if the activity and expenses are discussed beforehand. It’s crucial that both parents feel a part of the decision-making process. 

For successful communication, try to limit your demands and any passive-aggressive snarks. Simply talk and listen to what the other parent wants to say. Of course, this is often easier said than done. 

Communication may be the reason you and your ex-partner didn’t work out—some people just aren’t good at communicating. If you’re just learning how to co-parent successfully, here are some communication guidelines:

  • Talk about expectations as early in the divorce process as possible. Being open in the beginning can prevent misunderstandings later. 
  • Determine which expenses are essential and which aren’t. Establish boundaries around your income and personal savings. 
  • Be prepared to choose your battles. You will not always agree 100% on decisions. If you can’t see eye-to-eye, determine whether its genuinely worth fighting over. Be ready to move on and focus on the needs of your child.

Develop a System for Dividing Expenses

Some extra items and activities won’t be covered in court or meditation, so you may want to follow the court’s lead when deciding how to split them. 

Start by looking at your divorce decree. The decree usually spells out the designated responsibilities of each co-parent. It will typically clearly break out specific cost responsibilities. You can use this as your guide to communicating about shared expenses.

Typically, if a judge finds certain expenses to be reasonable and necessary, they will be divided proportionately to the parents’ income. The parent who makes more money will pay more of the extraordinary expense. 

Another way to approach these expenses is for the parent who feels most strongly about the activity should pay most or all of the money. When your ex feels your child should have an expensive item or participate in an extravagant event, they can foot the bill and vice versa.

Also, don’t sweat the small stuff. If your ex owes you a small amount, like $5, you should take one for the team. Then, you may see the other parent adapt in ways you hadn’t expected, like offering to babysit or bringing you coffee to your kid’s next football game. 

The key here is to put out positive and friendly energy because you will usually get it in return. 

Careful Discussing Finances With Children

If you have negative views towards the way your ex spends their money, save it for a friend or your therapist. For example, you might think your ex is a narcissist who splurges for themselves but rarely for your kids.

It might make you feel better to rant about how uncaring and selfish your ex is, but those comments make yourself feel good, not your children.

Parents should avoid involving the children in discussions about why they can’t afford certain activities or things. And they should never, ever throw the “I can’t afford to take you there because I have to pay mommy child support” card. 

You don’t have to keep your kids in the dark about your financial situation due to the divorce. You must, however, talk about it in a way that doesn’t place blame on your ex—or unwittingly, to your child.

Most experts agree that the more parents try to help their children understand finances, the more capable they are in managing their expectations about what they can have—or do—when they are with one parent or the other. 

Put the Kids First

You’ll hear this time and time again but always put the kids first. However, it’s not easy to do. For this reason, each parent should embrace “put the kids first” as their mantra instead of incessantly nickel-and-diming each other.

You don’t have to cast your needs aside. A situation may come up in which one parent unexpectedly picks up a significant expense, and the next time this happens, the other parent is willing to step up and cover it.

If it will work for you and your spouse, track “extra” expenses paid throughout the year, then make it equitable and fair at year-end.

Whichever way you decide to handle your co-parenting expenses, be sure its a system that works for the long haul. As co-parents, you may be splitting expenses for longer than you’d expect. 

Avoid Lawyers if You Can

Whenever possible, avoid attorney fees and go the mediation route unless you can work it out fairly and amicably together. 

Families can waste thousands of dollars in court and attorney fees. If there is any way you and your ex can put your egos aside and agree to a collaborative divorce, this will save you a lot of time and heartache. 

Fees wasted in court could go along way in the family fund—think theme parks and beach trips. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Be Creative

One way to manage expenses is to put all costs related to your children on a credit card held in both parents’ names. You can charge clothes, sports equipment and fees, school costs, dental and eye care, and more to this card. Then, parents split the bill at the end of the month and rarely have to discuss expenses.

Similarly, some co-parents choose to put money into a joint bank account and access the funds using debit cards. When determining how much to put into the savings account, you could choose equal sums or a pro-rated amount based on income.

How to Create a Co-Parenting Budget for a Joint Custody Schedule

You can share expenses without a budget. Having a shared budget for childcare expenses can smooth out the co-parenting process.

Your budget should include all the child-related expenses you’ve agreed to share, and how much each of you contributes. You can also create a budget that consists of the costs that you each assume sole responsibility for.

Commonly shared expenses by co-parents include things such as:

  • Babysitting services
  • Daycare or after-school care
  • Health and dental care
  • Clothing
  • Extracurricular activities (think sports, art classes, music lessons, etc.)
  • Field trips and other school activities
  • Camp fees
  • Birthday parties
  • Private school tuition
  • Contributions for college savings-accounts

How your custody is shared, and your respective incomes will determine how you split these expenses. If you have an equal custody arrangement, a 50-50 split may be the best choice. However, a 70-30 split is popular for situations where one parent makes significantly more. 

You should also include housing and food costs in your co-parenting budget. How you split these costs will also depend and vary due to the custody arrangement, parents’ income, and whether one parent provides financial support to the other. 

For example, if one parent has primary custody of the children, they may be responsible for covering housing and food with child support or alimony supplementation. 

Don’t forget that there are long-term expenses that come with raising children, including purchasing their first car and paying for college. If your written plan covers these expenses, you can view how costs will be divided—in black and white. Then, you can plan your budget accordingly.

Use Digital Tools to Your Advantage

If the idea of a budget on paper intimidates you, there are apps and tools available to help you manage the money side of co-parenting. 

Miscommunication regarding which items each parent pays for is usually the place where co-parents will argue—inputting data into an app that both parties have access to leaves less room for that bickering.

Managing your data digitally also creates a paper trail, which ensures that each parent upholds what is in their decree while keeping lawyers in the loop.

2houses offers a simple financial management tool. For co-parents, 2houses helps you manage shared expenses while continuously displaying the balance. This transparency ensures that accounts are reconciled and healthy. 

The app even includes the capability to send payment invitations to the other parent.

Let’s say you want to suggest the purchase of a new jacket and send a photo, or need advice on a future gift for one of your kids. You can use the wishlist feature to keep track of these situations easily.

It’s also simple to keep track of expenses and export reports—in CSV or PDF format—by period or expenditure category.

Tips for Saving Money

Finding savings while devising a co-parenting budget can make it even easier to get along. To lower expenses, try the following tips:

  • If both parents are on good terms with one another’s family, perhaps a family member could help with babysitting. This arrangement could lessen daycare or childcare costs. 
  • Try to minimize driving time when structuring your custody plan to help lower transportation costs. 
  • Both parents should review their health insurance plans to decide whether their plan is the most cost-effective for covering children. If you have one, take advantage of your Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • Talk through tax filing. It could save you more money to alternate claiming the kids each year, but it might make sense for one parent to always claim them as dependents. Find a tax professional who can find you the most significant savings.
  • Again, work out issues together without turning to attorneys. Separate emotions and focus on your goal: the children. 

Managing shared costs is often stressful, so using these tips can lessen the stress on the parents and kids alike. 

It’s Time to Get on the Same Financial Page

Separation and adjusting to a joint custody schedule isn’t the only factor that can impact family resources. Children grow up in single-home families where a parent loses their job, a parent changes careers and goes back to school, someone gets sick, etc. These are all life changes that impact a family’s budget.  

When co-parenting, talk to your kids in positive, constructive ways about budget changes. Having a can-do attitude will contribute to their healthy resilience when faced with change when they are later adults.

Commit to working together as co-parents to improve family life for you and your children. If you’re ready to try 2houses for your family budget, contact us today for a 14-day trial!

Parenting in the Land of The Midnight Sun: What to Know About Alaska Child Support

Alaska Child support

What to Know About Alaska Child Support?

In 2018, Alaska had one of the highest divorce rates in America. Statistics on how many of those couples had children at the time of their divorce aren’t clear. However, a 2019 study found that Alaska’s most searched phrase relating to divorce was “child custody.”

Going through a divorce is difficult. Coping with emotional stressors while also parsing out legal ownership of property is difficult enough. For many couples, helping their children cope with this major life change while also determining issues of custody and child support is the hardest part of a divorce.

We get many questions about Alaska child support. Each state has its own laws and determinations dictating who is required to pay child support and how much they must pay.

Read on for our guide to Alaska child support so you can navigate this difficult time knowledgeably and focus on what is best for your children.

The Basics of Alaska Child Support

Both state and federal laws state that child support is not optional, nor can it be waived. Ultimately, these laws are in place to ensure that every child of divorce is taken care of to the best of both parents’ abilities.

The first thing you and your former partner will need to decide upon is a parenting plan. While this plan will eventually be codified by law, it should begin with an open and honest reflection of both parents’ desires and availability as well as the child’s needs. While some couples are able to figure this out between the two of them, others may request the help of a mediator.

There are two distinct components to a parenting plan.

The first is the parenting schedule. This includes the days and times that a child will be with each parent. It also includes decisions about who will provide transportation of the child and who will fund that transportation.

The second is the decision making. In other words, parents will need to decide who has the responsibility of making major decisions regarding health, education, and social issues for the child. Some parents decide to make these decisions together while others agree that one parent will have more (or all) of that deciding power.

Once the parents have decided on a parenting plan, the judge in charge of their case will weigh in and make the final decision. The judge will consider a number of factors relating to the child’s best interest. These factors range from the love and affection between the child and each parent to the ability each parent has to meet the child’s needs.

Four Types of Legal Parenting Schedules in Alaska

The court will use one of four terms to describe a legally agreed-upon parenting schedule. The one you and your partner settle on will affect the amount of child support you will pay.

  1. Primary physical custody entails that one parent has the child more than 70% of the year. That means that in one year, one parent will have the child for at least 256 overnights.
  2. Shared physical custody entails that the child is with each parent for at least 30% of the year. That means each parent would have the child for at least 110 overnights.
  3. Divided custody applies when the parents have more than one child together. It is considered divided custody when one parent has primary custody of one child and the other parent has primary custody of another child.
  4. Hybrid custody also applies when the parents have more than one child together. It entails that while one parent may have primary custody of one child, shared custody applies to one or more of their other children.

What if One Parent is Moving Out of State?

In some cases, one parent may want to move to a new state. This will affect the judge’s decision about the legal parenting schedule.

Let’s look at an example. Say you and your partner have raised your child in Alaska for the child’s entire life and one parent wants to leave Alaska. The judge may decide that the parent staying in Alaska will receive primary custody if continuity and stability are deemed important factors in the child’s life.

However, if the moving parent had a credible case for bringing the child with them, the judge would examine the reasons behind their choice to move. They would look for reasons that the move was legitimate. For example, if the parent was moving for the sake of a promotion or to access better childcare for the child, the judge may rule in favor of that parent.

The parent paying child custody would be held to the laws the child is living in. In other words, if the child moved to or remained in Alaska, the parent would abide by Alaska child custody laws regardless of their own place of living.

In the event that you and your former spouse will no longer be living in the same state, prepare your child for the absence of a parent. The more you communicate with them, the easier it will be for them to understand why this change has occurred and adjust to their new circumstances!

How is Child Support Calculated?

When you’re calculating child support, you will always start with this basic formula: Gross Income – Deductions = Adjusted Income 

Further along, we will discuss the various expenses that count as deductions in this case. For now, let’s talk at length about the way your Adjusted Income (or AI) relates to the different Alaska child support payments.

The most straightforward child support calculation is in the case of primary custody. The non-custodial will be expected to pay the following:

  • 1 kid: AI x 20%
  • 2 kids: AI x 27%
  • 3 kids: AI x 33%

If you have more than 3 kids, add an additional 3% for each child.

Because child support calculations are more complicated in the case of shared, divided, or hybrid custody, we will link you to an Alaska child support calculator for each one. These calculations will vary based on the separate incomes of both you and your former spouse. They will also vary based on the length of time you each care for your child or children.

How Much Child Support Do I Owe?

In the state of Alaska, child support payments are to be made once a month. In other words, you will need to divide the percentage of your AI that you owe for child support by 12. This will show you the amount you owe in monthly installments.

Alaska child support laws determine that child support is due until the child is 19 years of age in certain circumstances. If the child is still in high school or is living with their custodial parent and unmarried at age 18, child support is still due until their 19th birthday.

We know that there are some months where bills and other expenses pile up. As much as parents want to make every child support payment on time, it doesn’t always happen. Note that in Alaska, you can be charged up to 6% interest on late child support payments.

What is Deductible from My Gross Annual Income?

Calculating your AI can be a bit confusing. Let’s talk a bit about what counts as your Gross Annual Income and what expenses or payments you can deduct from that.

Your Gross Annual Income includes wages and disability pay. It also includes SSDI, unemployment, and work benefits such as meals or housing. Finally, it includes any non-taxable benefits you may receive from the military or similar organization.

Now let’s talk a bit about what you can deduct from your Gross Annual Income. Because this can get a bit confusing, it can be helpful to work with a lawyer or mediator to figure out not only what your deductibles are but how much of your Gross Annual Income they account for.

The list of deductible income includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Federal taxes that are owed
  • State unemployment insurance
  • Medicare and Social Security
  • Mandatory and voluntary retirement contributions
  • Childcare paid for the child or children in question that you cover so that you can work
  • Child support you owe for a child from a previous relationship

Note that this list does not include all deductibles but rather the most commonly cited deductibles.

If you are paying child support for a child living in Alaska but you live in another state, record the taxes you pay. This includes state and local taxes and these are also deductible.

Focus On Your Child’s Needs

Getting through a divorce and figuring out Alaska child support laws can be difficult. Remember, as you go through this process, that things will reach a new normal soon and that this stress is only temporary. In the meantime, focus as much of your attention as you can on your child’s needs.