When you create a parenting plan in your divorce, the tendency is often to apply broad strokes to the future needs of the family. You may agree to a certain split of parenting time and even create a rough schedule for special days, birthdays and other significant events.
What you may not have stopped to consider are the increasingly expensive requests that children make as they get older. Whether it is a bus trip with middle school bandmates that will cost hundreds of dollars or a month-long stay at sleepaway equestrian camp, your kids are probably going to ask you to cover unusual expenses as they get older.
Planning for those costs ahead of time can benefit your budget and your children as well.
Can you and your ex agree to equally share extracurricular expenses?
Whether learning an instrument or playing a sport, the hobbies and passion projects that children and teenagers pursue are often expensive. Equipment, classes and special events may range from hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
Provided that you and your ex agree that some degree of enrichment is crucial for your children’s social and educational development, you should also try to find a way to agree on covering those costs in your parenting plan.
The more evenly split your parenting time is, the less child support will factor into covering such expenses. Instead, parents may want to have a separate agreement in place in their parenting plan. Agreeing to discuss big expenses before committing to them might be a good decision. If both parents approve of the expense, setting the expense-sharing ratio in writing could also help. That way, parents can budget for expenses, and your kids aren’t left in the middle and missing out on fun.
Planning ahead of time will limit conflict as issues arise
Addressing large, non-recurring expenses for your children in your parenting plan can reduce your family conflicts after divorce. By acknowledging the possibility that your children may want to go to summer camp or join a sport that has hundreds of dollars in equipment costs, you and your ex will be ready to address those needs when they arise for your kids.
The more situations and possible expenses that you try to preemptively address in your parenting plan, the easier it will be for your whole family to adjust to the complications of co-parenting.