As divorcing co-parents in New Mexico, you may have already dealt with stress and confusion when it comes to working with your co-parent to decide how to handle reimbursements and shared expenses for costs related to your children. Money tends to be a sensitive subject, and even the most ideal co-parenting situation can suffer when shared parenting costs come up. However, this is an area you will have to navigate as part of the co-parenting transition. Having a clear system for handling reimbursements and costs will help reduce some of the stress and anxiety that comes with this particular money matter. Here are four tips to keep in mind as you build yours.
Keep your child out of it
Even though the costs are related to your child, he or she should never play a role in their management. Your child doesn’t need to know the details of your expense handling with your co-parent, and he or she should be spared from seeing conflict between the two of you over the money. Avoid discussing reimbursements and costs in front of your child as that can make them feel guilty or responsible, especially if you and your co-parent are arguing about it.
Stick to a written agreement
You and your co-parent should create a plan for reimbursements and expenses and then write it into the parenting plan. Include how the various expenses will be handled and who will pay for what. Make sure you plan for the big costs, such as education and medical, and try to account for the typical smaller purchases you normally make. If child support is going to be paid, don’t forget to factor that into your decision as well. Once you have that written agreement, stick to it. This will help avoid problems later and keeps the expectations on both sides crystal clear.
Decide on the calculations
Tracking and calculating reimbursements and shared costs doesn’t have to be hard. Consider using a register that will automate some of the process for you. There are, for example, online tools and software you and your co-parent can both access to enter costs and have the math done for each of you based on the ratios you entered. You can also use the same program to enter in payments, which is incredibly helpful and will make everything easier to keep track of. If you chose to go with a written log instead, make sure yours is organized, easy to understand and kept up to date.
Know exactly how you will reimburse each other
Once you and your co-parent have decided how to split costs, you’ll need to make a plan for how you will reimburse one another. This will remove stress from the process and eliminate confusion. Decide what the payment method or methods will be and the frequency of those payments. For example, you both could decide that cash or check will work and that reimbursements will happen on the first of each month. If you do elect to include cash, you and your co-parent should get receipt books so you can provide each other with proof of payment. Try to stick to whatever it is you decide, as this will impact your household budget.
Taking the stress out of reimbursement and child-cost sharing is definitely easier said than done as money tends to come with anxiety for most people. However, if you take measures to lessen the stress now, you stand the best chance of making this run as smoothly as possible. If you need help, be sure to speak to an experienced family law attorney about your concerns.