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Negotiating for purchases outside of your child support order

Being a divorced parent in Pennsylvania can be difficult enough, but add financial challenges into the equation, and your family obligations can easily seem overwhelming. What do you do when you and your spouse are having difficulties identifying appropriate child support costs in the aftermath of your divorce? Too many parents continue to suffer through financial woes because they do not understand how to negotiate child support with their ex. If you are more financially conservative, you may be butting heads with a spendthrift spouse. Here are some tips for managing that challenging situation.

Nothing is more important in promoting the best interests of the child than communication. You and your ex may not like each other, but you do have to communicate with each other about financial resources that will be allocated to your kids. If one person is pushing for a big expenditure, it is critical for both parents to sit down and respectfully hash out their differences. For this to work, both parties have to be committed to having a mature, respectful conversation about the child support dispute.

Sometimes, major extraneous purchases -- those outside of every day expenses -- are not covered in your child support agreement. A court and your family attorneys are unlikely to anticipate every potential expense such as summer camp or the purchase of a musical instrument. For those costs, parents need to devise a system to share the burden according to their financial situation. For example, if one parent earns $60,000 each year, and the other earns $30,000, then the more "moneyed" spouse should probably pay double the amount of the "non-moneyed" spouse for that particular expenditure. Parents should strive for general fairness and equity -- your system could be compromised if you insist on calculating down to the penny.

Finally, remember to be judicious in your discussion of financial issues with your youngster. Burdening them with your financial hassles is likely to cause confusion and resentment. This practice can also cause a rift between parents and children if one parent is perceived as being unfair. Follow these simple guidelines, and you can experience a civil, beneficial negotiation for major financial needs.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "How to Split Parenting Expenses With Your Ex," Geoff Williams, July 23, 2015

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