I am often encountered with the situation where a client comes in the office and says happily “we have agreed neither one of us will pay child support to the other as part of our divorce proceeding and we’re just going to share the expenses for the kids.” While it seems like a great proposition on its face this is often fraught with many problems. Before you agree to “share expenses” in lieu of paying child support in your divorce proceeding carefully consider the following factors:
1. Do you and your ex-wife have the same philosophy on spending money? If you don’t you are only setting yourself up for failure when sharing expenses. Mom’s requests for reimbursement for clothing purchased at higher end stores vs. your philosophy that the kids will only grow out of their clothing anyway so clothes should be purchased at more reasonable places such as Target and Walmart is simply not going to work. Consider that one of the primary reasons marriages end in divorce is because of financial reasons. If that is one of the reasons your marriage is ending sharing expenses will not work in the future.
2. Who purchased the clothing and other necessities during the marriage? It is often the case that during the marriage one parent purchased the bulk of the children’s clothing, took care of hair cuts, school lunches, and paid for involvement in extracurricular activities. Often the other parent had little to do with this spending and as a result really doesn’t know what sharing expenses means. If you fall in this category you are setting yourself up for failure because you don’t really have a good handle on what the expenses are in order to be able to share them. If you are still adamant that sharing expenses is the way to go then educate yourself on what those expenses have been in the past and what they are likely to be in the future.
3. How much contact do you want with your former spouse? Sharing expenses means constant exchanges of emails, phone calls, and lots of receipts. If you don’t want a lot of contact with your former spouse or you and your former spouse are struggling to maintain an amicable relationship sharing expenses is not for you. Further, if you are not a detail oriented person and do not keep receipts for purchases related to your children sharing expenses is not for you.
While it may sound as though I always advocate for parents to pay child support I have seen situations where sharing expenses does work. However, you must go into the process with knowledge and an understanding of what that actually means. To check out more about our law firm go to www.columbiamolawfirm.com.
Written by: Amy Salladay, Knight & Salladay, Columbia, Missouri.