Splitting holiday expenses with your ex

Nobody ever claimed it was cheap to raise a child.

If you're already paying child support, you may think that you've done your share. However, child support is designed to cover the basic needs of the child, not the extras -- like presents and other expenses during the holiday season.

If you have children, these are some of the holiday expenses that your child support may not be enough to cover:

  • Holiday outfits for pictures, school events, church or trips to the grandparents' houses
  • Pictures of the kids, if that's a routine gift that your extended family (especially aunts, uncles and grandparents) expect
  • Small gifts of appreciation for the kids' teachers, coaches, babysitters or other special people in your children's lives
  • Your child's required outfit for the school choir or dance recital, including shoes
  • If you have teenagers, outfits and tickets for special school dances, like Homecomings, which are often held around this time of year
  • Presents for your children, at any age, including stocking stuffers, if your family celebrates Christmas or any other gift-giving holiday

If this is the first year after your divorce, you may not be thinking about all of things until the season is in full tilt -- which may cause you a little panic.

Here's the best advice to follow on how to handle the situation when your child support is just not enough to cover the extras that you know your child wants, expects and maybe even needs to have a normal holiday.

  1. Set up a time to talk with your ex about the issue. Agree that no other subject is open for discussion.
  2. Figure out in advance what you can afford to spend extra on either any given item, event or in total and remember that you cannot promise more than that.
  3. Try to work with your ex on cutting out unnecessary costs. For example, you can agree to pay half the cost of a dance dress for your teen daughter, but get her other parent to agree that your daughter can do her hair and nails at home -- which will save on the expensive salon visit.

Effective parenting involves learning to compromise. For parents who are divorced, learning to compromise over extra expenses related to their children is just an additional part of the job. If you're having real trouble, however, with child support issues, consider getting legal assistance.

Source: money.usnews.com, "How to Split Parenting Expenses With Your Ex," Geoff Williams, accessed Dec. 01, 2017

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