After a New Mexico divorce or legal separation, families often have to deal with upheavals to their daily routines. Of all the different adjustments, it is changes to the financial situations of both parents that tend to command most of the attention after the split.
As with any big change, preparing yourself in advance is the key to the smoothest transition possible, and for parents, this means considering the additional financial costs that come with parenting across two households. To get yourself prepared, check out three common areas that will have added costs for co-parents who are sharing parenting time.
The Housing Hike
Perhaps the most obvious example of an added cost after a divorce or legal separation, maintaining two separate households can easily double the amount of money parents spend on utilities and rent. Since this can be a significant increase, you should calculate what you can afford as early as possible in the separation or divorce process.
Travel and Exchanges Boost
If your shared parenting will involve regular exchanges of the kids or long-distance travel, you will need to consider those added travel expenses. It will mean more fuel and wear and tear on a vehicle if driving is involved, and the cost of plane tickets and other travel expenses must be taken into consideration in cases where long-distance travel is necessary. When it comes to driving, try to keep costs down by working with the other parent. If, for example, picking up your kid from school would really boost the mileage for the other parent, you could agree to a meeting place that’s halfway between the school and his or her home instead, and vice versa.
Before your split, your child only needed one wardrobe set, one of each of his or her toys and one set of toiletries. When shared parenting is involved, however, there are two households that will now need their own set of items for each child.
If appropriate, sharing the cost of big-ticket items like winter coats between both parents could help ease the budget sting. Your parenting plan should detail which expenses are to be divided between the two of you and in what proportions, and these shared expenses should be discussed in detail before they are made. When you do purchase a shared-cost item, make sure you have the receipt to show your co-parent.
While it can seem more financially sound to pack a bag for your child to take back and forth between homes, this could have an undesirable impact on how your kids view the two-household family. If your child has to pack up toys, clothes and other items to move between the houses, he or she may feel more like a visitor than a permanent part of both homes. Of course, packing a whole bag is not the same as your child asking to bring his or her favorite stuffed toy or pajamas to the other parent’s house. Should your child want to take a favorite item over to the other parent’s home, just make sure he or she has that item upon returning to your home.
Smooth co-parenting will require some thought in advance, so you and your co-parent should both think about the new expenses that are likely to appear as you transition to parenting across two households. When you take the time to anticipate these changes, you’re less likely to be caught off-guard and over budget. Work with your co-parent as much as you can to manage these additional expenses and keep the costs down for both of you.