Should you chip in on back-to-school expenses?

Are you separated from your child's other parent? Are you already divorced? Perhaps you were never married in the first place?

No matter what the situation, if you have a child support order in place, the back-to-school season presents the non-custodial parent with a difficult question. Do you chip in on the extra costs in addition to your regular child support?

Essentially, the short answer is, "Yes." As long as you aren't completely tapped out financially, it's the easiest way to maintain the peace with your child's other parent and avoid being dragged into court for a hearing.

At the same time, you want to make sure that you aren't handing over an unnecessary amount of your hard-earned cash if it isn't needed. Here are some practical strategies you can use to make certain that the financial burden is divided fairly:

1. Understand how much the current school season costs.

While your local demographics can affect how much is actually spent per child, the figures for 2017 look roughly like this:

  • Parents of kids in elementary school can expect to spend $662 on school clothes and supplies.
  • The cost rises for middle school kids to $1,001.
  • Students in high school cost the most, averaging $1,489 in expenses.

2. Figure out your share of the expenses based on your share of the child support.

Look at your child support papers and see if you can determine if the court has set your share of the child care expenses at 30 percent, 40 percent or more. Divide the total cost of the back-to-school expenses by that amount so that you know what you should contribute. For example, if you have two kids in middle school, they're going to need roughly $2,002 worth of school clothes and supplies. If you're expected to cover 40 percent of their expenses, that's $800.80. If you feel like that's a lot, remember that their other parent has to shoulder the remaining $1200.20!

3. Offer to split the list and buy what is on your share or offer to go shopping together.

That way you can make sure exactly where your additional money is going. You can tell the other parent that you want the bonding experience of going shopping with the kids -- it's something that no parent should miss.

For more advice on how to handle tricky child support issues, talk to an attorney today.

Source: www.losttweens.com, "This is How Much You Can Estimate to Spend During 2017 Back-To-School Season," accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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