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Dealing with childcare expenses as you and your ex co-parent

Divorced Louisiana parents will have to interact with one another long after they’ve split up as they raise their kids. One of the biggest topics of communication, and sources of dispute, is expenses. While general terms can be worked out during the divorce, kids’ needs will change over the years — sometimes in ways, good and bad, that you never expected.

Childcare expense discussions need to be worked out as amicably as possible. You shouldn’t be going back into court every time you disagree about who will pay for something. You’ll just end up spending money on legal bills that could be spent on your children.

Here are some keys for deciding how to cover the expenses you both face as parents:

— Use the agreement reached during your divorce as a guide. Often it’s determined that “reasonable and necessary” expenses are divided by the parents based on their income. If you make twice as much as your spouse, you’d pay twice the portion of the expense. Couples can use that same formula when unexpected expenses arise.

— If one spouse wants something for a child, such as season tickets for the opera or for the local pro hockey team’s games, that person would cover most or all of it.

— Don’t nickel and dime your spouse. If you take your kids out to the movies and dinner, foot the bill. Flexibility can go a long way to an amicable co-parenting relationship.

— Be careful when talking to your kids about money. If you can’t afford to do something they’d like, it’s fine to explain that it’s just not in your budget. However, don’t blame your spouse — even if you feel like that’s where all of your money is going.

— Communicate openly and honestly with your ex about why you think an expense is reasonable or not. Avoid passive-aggressive tactics to get what you want. This may be difficult if the communication in your marriage was less than healthy. If you need outside help, there are financial advisors who work with divorced spouses to help them manage their money.

If your divorce included a sound, well-thought-out agreement regarding childcare expenses, that can go a long way toward handling both every day and unexpected situations. However, parents also need to commit to working out these issues amicably for the benefit of their children.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, “How to Split Parenting Expenses With Your Ex,” Geoff Williams, July 23, 2015

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