Over 40% of all marriages in the US wind up in divorce.
Regardless of whether the divorce was contentious or not, it takes a toll on everyone, especially the children.
It’s therefore important that both of you take steps to ensure that this period does not become an indefinitely destabilizing period for them. A childcare plan can make all the difference.
Is co-parenting workable, and what are the strategies you can use to have a good plan in place? This article will lay bare everything money and co-parenting.
The Importance of Shared Parenting
Raising your kids together after your divorce is the best way to ensure that kids are adequately nurtured. This is unless your marriage was abusive or had substance abuse problems.
Going about it in this way also allows children to maintain the strong bonds they had with both parents before the divorce.
Despite the benefits of amicable parenting, co-parenting and making shared decisions can be quite a challenge.
A parenting plan, therefore, helps outline how you will still function as a family despite the situation.
Co-Parenting and Money
Aside from emotional issues, finances are a significant source of tension in shared parenting attempts.
And this is understandable. One of the things that change after a divorce is your finances.
A divorce for one means running two different households. If you were renting a home, you will now need to rent two houses.
If you owned your home, one of you will have to rent a home and both houses will need to be furnished for the kids to be able to live at either house. These costs can stretch your finances.
The other thing is that you no longer have joint incomes to help fund your lifestyles. For most people, this in itself is a source of anxiety.
The good news is, with the right strategies in place, you can still make your new circumstances work out for you. The following are some co-parenting strategies you need to know.
1. Create a working budget
We call it a working budget as this will change over the years.
For the present, however, you need to list out all expenses as you have been handling them before the separation.
With a total number on this, you can then agree on how to split the costs. If you have joint custody, the easiest way to split is 50/50.
This is, however, dependent on several factors.
If you had bought a home and one party will be renting, it’s only fair to have the renting party pay slightly less towards the child care costs.
Similarly, if one party makes significantly more than the other, then you can work out a ratio where each party makes a reasonable contribution.
This clearly sets out expectations from early on and allows you to rebuild your lives with the finances taken care to a certain degree.
2. Communicate Effectively
Agree to not only remain communicative but commit to listening to the other party on matters regarding your kids.
A working budget does not cover everything. There will be other expenses along the way that both of you will need to contend with.
Communication will make it possible for both of you to handle issues as they arise and hopefully find a middle ground.
It’s also essential to approach sensitive discussions objectively, without making demands or passing passive-aggressive remarks.
3. Get Help
At the end of the day, we are all human beings. It might be tough to focus on the issues at hand when dealing with a former spouse. This does not make you a bad person.
It might also be difficult coming to an agreement with a spouse that is too resentful or who is unwilling to meet you half way.
In such instances, getting help from a third party might be your only option.
The legal system can be the voice of reason in helping the two of you work on an enforceable child support agreement.
The system is also able to ignore your personal issues and focus on what is best for the minors.
You and your former spouse are allowed to review and revise these agreements every three years, or any time your financial circumstances change.
You can go about this in two ways. You could choose to draft an agreement with your former spouse. You can also hire a lawyer, go to court, and allow a judge to make the terms on your behalf.
4. Keep Children out of Financial Matters
The kids need to be kept out of the financial issues.
While the finances involve them, they should not be privy to information such as how much each party contributes or for what.
Instead, let the children know that mom and dad will take care of their needs together as they have always done.
It is important to avoid having reimbursement or late payments in front of them as well. This could make them feel guilty or responsible for the tension between the two of you.
Similarly, avoid making either parent the deciding factor in money decisions.
Say, for example, your child asks for a phone.
Discuss this with the other parent before giving your final word. Do not tell a child that they can have something if mommy or daddy pays for half.
Do not make provision a competition. Your goal at all times is to foster healthy relations among everyone involved.
Focus on Your Kids
One way to stay on course on the co-parenting journey is by focusing on the kids. Think about what is best for them and what your role is in ensuring they get the best.
Even when you do not think you have it in you, you will be surprised at how powerful your love for your kids can be in getting you back on track.
They say you only know who you married when you get divorced. Are you worried that your spouse will try and take everything in the divorce? Check out our blog on how to protect your assets during a divorce.