Divorce is difficult. The emotional toll alone can send a person into a deep, dark depression. Unfortunately, it’s not just the emotional toll that needs to be dealt with; there are also a number of practical matters to handle.
This is doubly true if you have kids. Splitting childcare costs after a divorce can be a contentious and stress-filled issue. Nonetheless, it’s an issue that needs to be solved.
Are you facing this issue presently? Need an answer to “how much does childcare cost after a divorce?” Then read on.
Here’s how to pay for childcare after you and your spouse have split up.
How Much Does Childcare Cost?
First and foremost, let’s discuss just how much childcare costs. This figure can vary based on a number of factors. However, there are averages available.
In the United States, the average cost of full-time childcare is approximately $16,000 a year per child. That means that, per child, parents are paying a little over $1,000 a month.
Note, there is some give and take here. In low-cost-of-living areas, costs can be quite a bit lower. But in high-cost-of-living areas, costs can actually be much higher.
In any case, you need to spend a large portion of your paycheck in order to pay for childcare services. So, as you might expect, this can be a hot-button issue during divorce proceedings.
How Are Childcare Costs Split Between Divorced Parents?
Generally speaking, childcare costs are split 50/50 between divorced parents. In some cases, this is commanded through a child support order; in other cases, it’s decided voluntarily.
If it is commanded through a child support order, it’s taken out of the money that needs to be paid anyway. So, in other words, the non-custodial parent would send the child support money, and the custodial parent would use a portion of it to help pay for daycare.
Note, though, that this isn’t always the case. There are cases in which a single parent decides to pay all of the childcare costs. There are also cases in which one parent pays more of the costs than the other parent.
There’s also the chance of a paternity attorney getting involved, in which case, all sorts of scenarios could pop up.
In the end, it comes down to agreements that were made between you and your ex-spouse or decisions that were made by the family court. In other words, results vary.
Discussing the Splitting of Childcare Costs After a Divorce
Discussions about money prior to a divorce can be testy, to say the least. But they need to be had. Here are some tips for approaching them.
The first tip is simple: be civil. You don’t want to go into this conversation with an “attack” mindset. You shouldn’t be looking at your ex-spouse as an enemy but as, well, a partner.
Don’t make commandments about what your spouse is going to pay. Instead, make suggestions and ask questions.
Stand up for yourself, yes, but don’t steamroll your ex-spouse, either. Doing so could cause resentment and, therefore, cause more trouble in the long-run.
You might have some negative feelings toward your ex-spouse. You might have an impulse to put them through the proverbial ringer. But you have to remember that this is the parent of your child; whatever you do to your ex-spouse, you’re also doing to your beloved son or daughter.
In short, be fair.
Don’t use finances to manipulate your ex-spouse. Don’t blackmail your ex-spouse into paying more than they should reasonably have to. Just establish a balanced plan and let it roll.
Nothing good is going to come out of you attempting to punish your ex. You’ll hurt not only your ex, but also yourself and your children.
Put Out a Feeler Call
You might be ready to discuss the splitting of finances with your ex-spouse but that doesn’t mean that your ex-spouse is ready. And if they go into the process in a poor state of mind, you could end up with a real problem on your hands.
For this reason, before actually talking about finances, you should put out a feeler call. Call up your ex and see how they’re doing. Gauge the way they respond to you and determine whether they’re ready for the money conversation.
The wounds could be raw at this point, so you need to take it relatively slow. The key is to be empathetic and understand that your spouse moves at their own pace.
Lay Out a Budget
Childcare expenses are expensive and can come in many forms. You don’t only have to pay for childcare services, but also for extracurricular activities, clothing, school functions, and much more.
With all of these expenses to pay, they can be fairly complex to keep proper track of. And it’s not at all uncommon for one parent to incidentally end up paying more overall than the other.
For this reason, you need to layout a budget. Use Excel or another spreadsheet program to jot down all reoccurring expenses. This way, you’ll have all of the figures in front of you, and will be able to discuss them with simple ease.
You can then use a part of the spreadsheet to allocate different costs to you and your ex-spouse. Use the “SUM” function to add up your totals, and try to make them as even as possible.
Open up a Special Bank Account
Keeping track of money for childcare costs after a divorce can be challenging. For this reason, you’re advised to open up a special bank account for each child that you and your ex-spouse share. This way, each of you can put the decided-upon amount of money into the account monthly, and ensure that each is paying the amount of money that was agreed upon.
Having a special bank account available also makes it easier to transfer and withdraw funds as needed. If a new expense comes up, you can talk to each other, decide on who’s going to pay it, and then make it available almost immediately by putting it in the bank account.
Additional Tips for Splitting Childcare Costs
There are a few more things you can do to even out childcare costs over time. They include the following.
Open Life Insurance Policies
You don’t want to think about it, but the death of you or your ex-spouse is always a possibility. And if one of you were to die, your children would be missing out on substantial monetary help.
For this reason, you and your spouse are advised to open up life insurance policies. Make sure that the payouts are enough to cover each of your portions of the expenses until the children are adults. This way, there’s no risk of subjecting your children to a reduced quality of life whilst still in their childhood.
Make Sure You Both Have Wills
While we’re on the matter of death, we should also discuss wills. Both you and your ex-spouse should have one, and it should dictate exactly what happens to your money after you pass.
Note arranging a will can put your money on hold for months after your death, making it difficult for your children or ex-spouse to access it. The early death of a parent is already a trying experience. Don’t subject your children to further stress by failing to properly allocate your assets.
See a Financial Advisor
Splitting childcare costs is one of the most challenging financial hurdles you’ll ever have to cross. It can be very complex very quickly. As such, after you and your spouse have divorced, you should see a financial advisor.
A financial advisor will not only tell you how you should store and transfer your money, but they’ll also act as a mediator between you and your ex-spouse, helping to determine who will pay what expense.
Your advisor can also help you with your taxes, ensuring that you and your ex-spouse are in full cooperation on who’s writing off what and who’s taking relevant deductions. If you’re not on the same page for these matters, major complications can arise.
On the Search for Other Such Info?
You now have an answer to “how much does childcare cost?” You also have some tips on how to handle childcare costs after a divorce. But maybe you’re looking for more information?
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