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How to Manage Child-Related Expenses with Your Ex

One of the most common frustrations my clients and divorced friends share with me is about the agony of how they and their exes struggle and argue over child-related expenses. It is often the source for ongoing debate and conflict.

These expenses usually fall outside the normal child support guidelines which cover the basics - shelter, food, clothing. They include things like education, extracurricular activities such as sports, drama and music, and academic and college testing tutors, school field trips, church or synagogue youth group education, medical expenses, even birthday parties and overnight camps. And the list can go on and on.

In the best case scenario, divorcing couples have the shared child-related expenses discussion BEFORE THE DIVORCE PAPERS ARE SIGNED so they can minimize future frustrations and start off with a clear path and approach about:

  • how these expenses will be covered

  • who will cover, and

  • a plan for submitting and reimbursing expenses

But let’s say you and your ex, like many divorced couples, don’t have a detailed child-related expense plan in your divorce agreement and are feeling pretty stressed financially and emotionally. Take a step back, and check out a few of these strategies for getting your child-related expenses organized, planned, shared and/or reimbursed:

1. Have the money conversation with your co-parent. First and foremost, If you and your ex are amicable, try to have the conversations about current and future child-related expenses so you have a clear sense of what each of you is willing and can financially contribute to these expenses.

2. If possible, use a separate credit card specifically for shared expenses. This will make reconciling the expenses much easier because they are all in one place.

3. Decide the best way for you to keep track of expenses.

High tech, low tech or in between. There is a process for everyone, just pick the one that works for you:

  • Pen and paper

  • Paper receipts, labeled & kept in an envelope

  • Electronic spreadsheet

  • Drop box where invoices and receipts are uploaded

  • Co-parenting app

4. Routinely log the expenses. Weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Just be consistent and comply with the agreement established with your co-parent.

5. Commit to submitting reimbursements on the same date every month. Treat this process like an invoice, especially if a timeframe is defined in your divorce agreement. Keep track of related correspondence in case you need to refer to it later.

Need additional guidance in getting your shareable child-related expenses under control and reimbursed? Reach out to Post Divorce Force, and let us help you get there.

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