4 Tips for Sharing Expenses with Your Co-Parent

sharing expenses

By Rebecca Perra, Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Judicial Education Coordinator, OurFamilyWizard

Money is a sensitive subject for many people to talk about, and even the most peaceful co-parenting situations may find that frustrations begin to flare when the topic of sharing expenses comes up. As a divorced parent, you may have encountered lots of confusion and stress when working with your co-parent to figure out how best to handle shared expenses and reimbursements for child-related costs.

Sharing expenses is part of the transition in divorce and co-parenting, and having a clear system in place for handling expenses and reimbursements will help to reduce a lot of the anxiety that comes with these money matters.

Here are four tips for removing stress from sharing expenses and reimbursements: 

1. Protect Your Child From Expense Stress

Even though your child is the one for who these costs are being incurred, they shouldn’t play a role in the actual management of them. Even asking your child to check in with their other parent about an expense, like a field trip check or lunch money, can create an emotional burden for them to carry.

Don’t talk about expenses or reimbursing your co-parent in front of your child. Kids don’t need to know the ins and outs of how their expenses are being handled, nor should they observe any conflict between their parents brought about by these costs. It may only put pressure on them, which could manifest into concerning behaviors and, in turn, make your role as a parent even more stressful.

Instead, find a way to handle money tracking and payments directly with your co-parent. OurFamilyWizard’s Expenses feature makes it simple to keep track of shared costs, receipts, and reimbursements. Both parents have the same level of access to expense records within the system, so you both can have clear visibility into where child-related expenses stand—without having to ask your child to be a messenger.

2. Put an Agreement in Writing and Stick to It

As part of your parenting agreement, coming up with a plan for sharing expenses and handling reimbursements is just as important as deciding your parenting schedule. Document how different types of costs will be handled and by whom. Plan for the big costs like medical expenses and schooling costs, as well as the day-to-day purchases that you often incur. Child support may also factor into how you handle these costs, so consider those payments in your plan as well. If you’re not sure how best to handle decisions about splitting costs, talk to a professional such as a divorce mediator or a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. These professionals can help you understand how to manage your money and make lasting financial decisions more effectively.

3. Stay On The Same Page About Calculations

When calculating and tracking your shared expenses and reimbursements, the math doesn’t have to be hard. Consider using a shared expense register that calculates the totals for you, no matter what your ratios of responsibility may be. This way, you will know exactly how your totals were determined without having to wonder how they were reached or do the math in your head.

Using tools like those found in the OurFamilyWizard app to track expenses and payments, you’ll have access to tools that break down each expense request into the totals that each parent is responsible for based on custom categories that are assigned to each request. OurFamilyWizard’s Expense Log will help you keep running totals of how much has been requested, is owed, and has been paid between you and your co-parent. Not only can you view these totals in the app, but you can also print reports of all your expenses or details about individual requests for reimbursement.

4. Find An Effective Tool for Managing Expenses and Reimbursements

Apart from how to split expenses, have a plan for how you will reimburse each other for various costs. Having a system for payments and reimbursements ready from the get-go will help to remove some of the stress from this process, but the system that you choose to use can also affect the stress factor involved here.

Mailing checks or sending money orders can be inconvenient and won’t always leave a readily available paper trail to report on if need be. Alternatively, a system like OFWpay will keep both your requests for reimbursements and the details related to payments to reimburse those requests in one place. Again, reports can easily be generated to show details about when payments were made and which reimbursement requests they satisfied.

Removing stress from sharing expenses and reimbursements is much more easily said than done. Money will always carry anxiety with it for many people. However, taking measures to reduce the stress felt when handling shared parenting costs can accomplish two things: it will help your children feel more secure and take stress away from them, and it can foster a healthy co-parenting relationship, which is better for everyone!

If you’d like to learn more about OurFamilyWizard, please visit the website.

Rebecca Perra is a family law attorney as well as a family law and dependency mediator. She also serves as the Judicial Education Coordinator for OurFamilyWizard. In this role, she educates judges, lawyers, and other family law professionals on the online tools that are used to reduce conflict and increase accountability in high-conflict co-parenting situations.

 

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Rita Morris, Certified Life Coach and Parenting Coach
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