3 Options for Co-parents to Navigate Shared Kid’s Expenses
Co-parents navigating shared kid’s expenses can cause a lot of conflicts. These 3 options can be helpful solutions to navigate the expenses. If you and your co-parent weren’t able to make decisions about money when you were together, it probably feels impossible as co-parents.
It may surprise you to know many co-parents find it more simple to navigate expenses and budgets for kids after divorce. We didn’t say easier, BUT we did say more simple. Why is this? Because divorce opens an opportunity to create new structures and routines for families. Post-divorce, many co-parents look for financial guidance and co-parenting education to help them navigate the hard things. With a little bit of planning, co-parents can navigate kids’ shared expenses more smoothly and your kids won’t feel like they are being put in the middle.
The first step, set up a family business meeting. The structure of these meetings helps co-parents better process big or small issues. Determine how frequently you and your co-parent need to meet to discuss your kid’s needs and upcoming expenses.
Here are 3 options to help co-parents resolve conflict around money and shared kid’s expenses:
Option 1: for co-parents navigating shared kid’s expenses
Set up a joint bank account for kids’ expenses.
Lay the ground rules
- Determine the amount each of you will contribute.
- Decide how frequently you will do this (monthly, quarterly, or annually)
- What bank account will you and your co-parent use (joint bank account, kids account, etc)
- Each co-parent is responsible for making their deposit. Remember! Deposit the funds ON TIME – this is for the benefit of your kids.
- Identify what kind of expenses are approved to be paid for from this account.
- See below for an example of approved and not approved expenses
What are the pros and cons for co-parents trying to navigate sharing kid’s expenses with using option 1?
Who are the co-parents who should avoid this?
- If you or the other parent can’t or won’t stick to a plan
- You or your co-parent currently has sporadic/irresponsible spending tendencies (it’s important to see the person as they are now and not their past spending habits)
Option 2: for co-parents navigating shared kid’s expenses
One person pays and the other reimburses
Lay the ground rules
- Together determine an amount each of you feels comfortable spending per month. This is important so there are no surprises for either of you.
- Determine who is responsible for keeping track of the budget each month and keep a record so there is no question on where or how the money was spent.
- Choose an agreed-upon day of the month. One parent submits receipts and the total to the other parent for reimbursement. (think of this like your expense tracker at work and don’t be offended when one parent wants a receipt- think of this as operations. You wouldn’t get reimbursed for an expense at work if you couldn’t prove the expense. This is a family business skill.
- Identify what monthly expenses are acceptable to include in this agreement.
- For example: create an approved and not approved list like this:
What are the pros and cons for co-parents trying to navigate sharing kid’s expenses with this option?
Who should avoid this?
- You or your co-parent can’t stick to a plan
- Your co-parent or you has sporadic/irresponsible spending tendencies
- If you or the other parents are very disorganized and unable to track things (receipts, spending, etc)
- You and your co-parent’s conflict level is so high you can’t communicate respectfully
Option 3: for co-parents navigating shared kid’s expenses
You do you, and I’ll do me
Lay the ground rules
- Determine which expenses fall outside of child support
- Self-responsibility is key here. For some families, spending (outside child support and legal agreements) is determined by each household.
- If an activity falls on your parenting time, you are responsible for the cost of the activity. Or another example, you want them to have new gear or equipment it’s your responsibility.
What are the pros and cons of this option?
Which types of co-parents should avoid this option for shared expenses?
- Co-parents who can’t stick to a plan
- If you or your co-parent has sporadic/irresponsible spending tendencies
- Co-parents who have a very collaborative co-parenting relationship
Remember, the key is to make it about the kids in order to keep them out of the middle.
Have more questions about co-parenting and sharing kids’ expenses, or do you want more support to help you navigate the tough times with your co-parent? You don’t have to figure this out all on your own. Check out our online co-parenting course to help you navigate the tough times and boost your confidence as a co-parent.
Having the tools and skills to navigate co-parenting in an effective, healthy way is important. If you want more help on how to get on the same page with your co-parent, our online co-parenting course Parenting From Two Homes will help you.
Disclaimer: Co-parents navigating shared kid’s expenses can cause a lot of conflicts. We specialize in helping co-parents in the DAY TO DAY realistic aspects of co-parenting. Please reference your legal agreements when appropriate too.