Divorced Dads and Children's Expenses

Divorced fathers and child care, educational costs, extracurricular activities

Addressing the Costs of Raising Kids Following Your Divorce

During your divorce, you're probably going to be concerned about your finances. As you and your ex shift from living in one home and combining your incomes to maintaining two separate households, you're most likely going to need to make some changes and adjustments. In addition to making sure you can support yourself, you'll also need to be sure to address all of the costs involved in raising your children and meeting their needs.

Child support is a necessary component of most divorce cases. Whether you expect to pay support to your kids' mom or receive support as the custodial parent, you'll want to be sure to understand exactly what is covered and whether you will need to address any additional expenses.

What Is Included in Child Support?

While the methods used to calculate child support payments will vary depending on the laws of your state, in most cases, a "basic" amount of support will be determined that is meant to address children's daily needs. These child support obligations will address the costs of feeding your children, providing them with clothing, and ensuring that they have a place to live.

In addition to the basic obligations, there may be a variety of other expenses that you will need to address. These can include:

  • Medical care - You'll need to be sure your children have medical insurance coverage. They may be included in a health insurance policy offered by either parent's employer, and you and your ex may divide the costs of premiums. You may also need to address other healthcare-related expenses, such as co-pays for doctor visits, medications, or the costs of physical therapy or mental health care.
  • Childcare - Younger children may need to attend daycare while parents are working, or you and your ex might choose other options, such as hiring a nanny or using babysitters to watch children before or after school.
  • Education - Throughout your children's time in school, you may need to address expenses such as enrollment fees, books, or school supplies. If they will be going to a private school, you will need to determine how to divide the costs of tuition, application fees, or entrance fees.
  • Extracurricular activities - Your kids may want to participate in sports or clubs, take music or dance lessons, or join their friends in a variety of ongoing activities, all of which can have significant costs.
  • Transportation - If you and your ex both participate in transporting your children between your homes and to school or other activities, you may not need to address the costs of transportation. However, if your kids need to travel a significant distance during periods of parenting time, you may want to determine how to share in travel expenses. For example, if the non-custodial parent lives in a different state, travel costs may include airfare, bus fare, or gas for long road trips.

The divorce laws in different states may provide for different types of child-related expenses. Some state laws may require parents to divide these costs equally, while in others, expenses may be divided proportionally based on the amount of income each parent earns. You'll want to consult with an attorney to make sure you understand how the laws in your state will apply to your individual situation.

College Expenses

While child support obligations will usually end when children become adults and graduate from high school, some state laws require divorced parents to help their children pay for the cost of a college education. Even if your state does not have these requirements, you and your ex may agree to include language in your divorce settlement about how each of you will plan to help cover your kids' college expenses.

The following expenses may be involved in ensuring your children receive a college degree:

  • Tuition, room, and board
  • Application fees
  • College entrance exams and prep courses
  • Books and supplies
  • Medical insurance
  • Transportation

Your divorce attorney can help you determine your obligations regarding college expenses, and they can make sure the language in your divorce decree will protect your financial interests while providing your kids with the support they need.

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