Child Support Payments – reduce conflict with these 5 strategies for a better #divorcelifestyle.
Child support has the propensity to create a lot of conflict between divorced parents. Whenever possible, there are buffers you can put in place to reduce stress.
Here are 5 important and totally effective ways to reduce conflict over child support.
1. If your state allows it, settle child support by agreement rather than attending a hearing and arguing in front of a judge. When support is set by agreement, there is a greater likelihood of compliance and a lesser likelihood of conflict, court battles, and attorney fees in the future. Bonus tip: familiarize yourself with your state’s guideline formula.
2. Don’t forget the details: An order should specify when support begins, the days upon which it is payable, and the amount of support that is allocated to each child. When support is allocated between children, as each child ages out of support, the order automatically adjusts without the need to return to court or file an updated order.
3. Understand that child support is simply for base living expenses. All “extra” expenses, such as educational, athletic, extracurricular, medical, dental, child care, and tuition expenses, are paid on top of the support order.
Simply listing that “all” extra expenses are shared can lead to conflicts about whether something was an “authorized” expense.
4. Be specific about allocating the cost of these extra expenses…And be specific about which extra expenses are to be split.
First, identify every extra expense a child might incur — from yearbooks and prom, to auto insurance and diapers for daycare. Then, specify whether each cost will be split equally, paid by one parent alone, or split proportional to income. Simply listing that “all” extra expenses are shared can lead to conflicts about whether something was an “authorized” expense.
5. Have a system that tracks payment of support and ongoing expenses. Having a system to account for payment of support and reimbursement of extra expenses benefits parents and children by lowering conflict, increasing payment compliance, encouraging quick reimbursement of extra expenses, providing an alternative to face-to-face discussions, and keeping clear records in the event of any dispute.
A child support order is just the first step, and it can be stressful and conflicted to manage on an ongoing basis. One of our best tips: have support payments on autopay, and keep a shared bank account for the child’s expenses. Each parent contributes an agreed amount monthly, each has access to pay expenses directly from the account, making it unnecessary to track reimbursements.
For more detail, see our live conversation on the topic: