Co-Parenting and Finances
We all know that raising children is expensive. It is estimated that the cost of raising children through the age of 18 is $233, 610 and according to the USDA the cost of raising a child on a year basis is around $13,000 per year for middle-class families. Housing and food are the two largest contributing factors to those numbers, with the cost increasing should you choose to add extracurricular activities to their schedules. When it comes to co-parenting and finances it can get especially tricky–finances are already one of the leading causes of divorce and separation, but what happens when you are already going through the divorce? What next?
So what happens when you are divorced/single and co-parenting with someone else not in the same household? The cost doubles obviously. This is because the children will then require two sets of furniture to sleep on and use, two sets of clothing; more material goods across two households can add up quickly. These essential things aren’t usually factored in when divorce is considered–although once one spouse moves out they quickly realize the children will need another set of furniture and beds to sleep on when they come visit. Children are unpredictable and as they grow their needs can quickly change.
Once upon a time you and your spouse (or significant other) shared finances and were able to piggy back off the other should times get hard; you are now on your own and probably have a differing financial situation compared to your spouse. While it may be cause for anxiety in some (not all but some) there is no need to panic.
There is no one-size fits all formula for families and especially your children. Even the most amicable of divorces can go astray when finances come into play. Communication is key and coming up with a fair system is a sure fire way to ensure things run smoothly.
Communication & Keeping a Fair System are key to maintaining a stable co-parent relationship. Co-parenting and finances are a touchy subject, while you aren’t expected to agree on every last aspect, becoming passive agressive or trying to “one-up” the other parent can and will lead to animosity. Which is the exact opposite of what you want!
If you and your former spouse are unable to agree on a financial agreement, I highly suggest going into mediation to avoid any further chaos. The key to making co-parenting work is civility. Having a third party step in on the major issues is a great way to keep animosity and disagreements to a minimum. I know that communication does not come easy. From my own personal experience, post-divorce parents are not always going to see eye to eye on certain things; but becoming stubborn and difficult to work with is NOT the way to handle things. This will only lead to more frustration. Excellent communication means keeping the other parent informed of major decisions to ensure they are also able to give their absolute best. Keeping the other parent well-informed on the happenings of the children will allow for better parenting on both sides.
For the parents struggling financially and looking to get a better grip on their finances here is some further reading for you: