If your relationship has ended but you are co-parenting your children with your ex-partner, life can get complicated. And never more so than where money is concerned.
Finances around co-parenting are unique to each family. However, with financial settlements and Child Support there are some basic rules to help you find a fair arrangement. Yet, this doesn’t cover everything and lots of money matters have argument-inducing grey areas.
In most cases, finding financial solutions as co-parents is possible but it can take time, empathy, respect and understanding – many of which are missing in a fresh relationship split. For this reason, we are going to share with you some tried and tested tricks for managing your money with your ex-partner for the sake of your children.
DON’T TALK ABOUT MONEY IN FRONT OF THE KIDS
Like everything in a co-parenting family, always be wary about what you say in front your children. Depending on their age, it’s fine for them to be part of a conversation about money, but not an argument that could leave them anxious about costs they shouldn’t worry about, such as clothing, school trips and medical bills. Children need to know you can pull together to provide the basics of life at the very least. This is the foundation from which they learn and grow so make it a solid, dependable one.
GET YOUR PROPERTY SETTLEMENT DONE
When you have made the decision to separate, it is important to work on your financial settlement as soon as possible. While you are still sharing bank accounts, managing a mortgage together and deciding ‘who gets what’ it could cloud your decision-making when it comes to financial aspects of co-parenting. Once you are financially separated you can focus on your money independently and get clarity over co-parenting, including the money issues.
SHOW EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING
Money makes the world go around. Without money life can become tragically hard. It is the same for everyone, including your ex-partner. If they have been made redundant or had another financial emergency which results in a sudden loss of income, be understanding. You may be legally separated but you are still legally co-parenting, this means pulling together for the sake of your children during tough times. Treating your ex-partner with respect and empathy around money will encourage them to offer the same to you in return.
GET ON THE SAME PAGE
Communication is key to any successful co-parenting relationship, and this includes financial matters. Taking time to discuss and find a way forward with long-term financial decisions such as schools and orthodontist work is very important. Last minute arguments about such life-changing events are highly stressful for everyone involved, especially your children who need to know that both parents are on the same page and making the right decisions in their best interests.
UPDATE YOUR PARENTING PLAN
If communication with your ex-partner is not your strong point you will need a parenting plan or parenting orders. Make sure you include the financial aspects of co-parenting in the document. This can be as detailed as you like. In fact, the more detail, the less room for disagreements. It also prevents one parent from changing their mind relating to a financial decision you have previously agreed upon in the best interests of your children. Parenting plans can be updated periodically as your children grow and their needs change.
DON’T COMPETE WITH MONEY
A really common strategy of co-parenting, especially in the early days when emotions are raw, is to compete to spend more money on the children than the other parent. This is done for a number of reasons including the need to be the better parent and to compensate for being a separated family. Children learn quickly that they can play their parents off against each other in order to get what they want, which is not a good lesson for them to learn. Instead, try to work with your ex-partner to teach your children the value of money and show a united front in regards to new toys, computers games and even pocket money.
USE A CO-PARENTING APP
There are some brilliant apps available for co-parenting and the more advanced have some clever features to manage your money with your ex-partner. You are able to share receipts, track expenses and even manage a shared bank account. Using a co-parenting app can help to eliminate the small arguments allowing you to be better co-parents, and in turn, raise happier children.
AIM FOR FINANCIAL STABILITY FOR BOTH PARENTS
When all else fails and you find it impossible to work with your ex-partner remember this: Your children will benefit most if both their parents are financially stable. And you will also benefit if their other parent is financially stable. With financial stability comes good mental health and a better life-style. Pulling together as co-parents and helping one another to reach this point is in the best interests of the people you both love most in this world.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
We’ve covered communication and planning in this article but don’t limit this to what is happening in near future. Try to open the conversation early about financial decisions in the coming years. The longer you have to work through each other’s opinions without the pressure of a fast-approaching deadline, the better. You will also know sooner if you are going to reach a stalemate and you can look for outside support such as mediation to help you reach a decision.