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How do you manage ongoing parental expenses after divorce?

A collaborative divorce can be a very freeing thing. If you and your ex can work together to make major decisions in a civil and cooperative manner, you might find that divorce is less stressful than it could be and that you are both happier with the outcome. While that's not the case for everyone -- and not every situation supports a collaborative effort -- when you can make it work, it sets the stage for continued collaboration.

One area where you might need to continue to collaborate into the future is on parenting expenses. While you can make and record many decisions during the divorce process, kids grow and change in ways that you might not expect. You might plan out how you'll work together to pay for medical bills and education, but extracurricular activities could come up that you never planned on.

One example is when a child takes up a new interest, such as horse riding, ballet or a musical instrument. All of these interests do cost money, and you'll need to work together with your ex to figure out how that interest will be funded -- or whether it will be funded at all. You can't expect to agree on every single expense that comes up, either. You might believe a musical instrument is a great idea, while your ex can't afford to cover any more than he or she already is. Likewise, you might not be in a time or financial position to support that additional sport your ex is encouraging.

By planning ahead and creating a system during your collaborative divorce, you can hedge your bets some with these issues. As with any collaboration, open communication is important at all times, and if you believe any conflict is arising that can't be overcome, make sure you know your legal rights and options.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "How to Split Parenting Expenses With Your Ex," Geoff Williams, accessed Oct. 14, 2016

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