Division of Back-To-School Expenses Between Divorced or Separated Parents Can Cause Conflict
May 24, 2018 09:19 AM EDT
Returning to school in the fall can be a stressful experience for children, and costly for their parents, particularly when the parents are going through a divorce or separation. It is estimated that it can cost approximately $600 per child for supplies and fees for activities. Such supplies can include backpacks, computers, printers and many electronic devices that children use today.
Virginia family law attorney Lisa McDevitt says, "Divorced or separated parents are advised to make a concerted effort to cooperate with each other when making a determination as to how to share their children's school expenses." "It is in the best interest of the child for them to arrive at an agreement despite their differences."
Court-ordered child support does not provide for the costs of back-to-school supplies and fees. Child support usually includes the cost of shelter, utilities, food, clothing and transportation. Another difficulty that can arise is when one parent does not wish to pay for extracurricular activities, such as the purchase of musical instruments and lessons, or participation in team sports.
However, there are generally two ways in which parents can make a decision as to how to handle back-to-school expenses. They can divide the expenses evenly, or use the same income ratios that are frequently used for reimbursement of medical expenses. For example, one parent may have 70 percent of the income, in which case that parent pays 70 percent of the cost, and the other pays 30 percent of the cost.
Back-to-school expenses can compel parents who are in distressed marriages to communicate and attempt to discuss these expenses. Sometimes they can engage in such discussions, and other times they cannot. However, if they are unable to talk about their children's school expenses, then the children will suffer.
If the parents have different viewpoints as to issues relevant to school or their children's teacher, it is recommended that they talk with each other and the teacher directly. It is best not to involve the child, whose attention should be directed toward their education. Moreover, if the parents are in disagreement with each other over issues relevant to their children's education, neither of them should request that the teacher take their side, transmit messages to the ex-spouse or withhold their concerns from the ex-spouse. The teacher is only concerned with the children's education, and not the parents' divorce agreement.
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