I know somebody payin’ child support for one of his kids His baby momma’s car crib is bigger than his You will see him on TV, any given Sunday Win the Superbowl and drive off in a Hyundai She was supposed to buy ya shorty Tyco with ya money She went to the doctor got lipo with ya moneyWhen parents are willing to step outside the courtroom to solve the issue of supporting their children, they can create custom solutions that minimize fighting. In the collaborative divorce process, we ask our families to put together budgets and we separate the children’s expenses. What are the actual expenses for your children? Things such as summer camps, sports, tutoring, clothing, cell phones,and driving lessons. Once parents have a clear picture of what the expenses are, they can talk about how to pay for these expenses. One creative solution many of our clients adopt is an account for the children’s expenses. The parents designate a joint account, decide how to fund the account and how to handle payments from the account. So when Susie is at mom’s house and says she needs to bring a check for school lunches, mom can write a check from the joint account. When dad takes Billy shopping for new soccer cleats, he can pay with a debit card from the joint account. The parents can talk about the actual expenses and revise their budget as the needs of their children change. And no one is taking child support to get plastic surgery like in Kanye’s song.
When parents think about divorce, thoughts often go to their children. How do we tell them? Will they adjust to having two homes instead of one? How will we pay their expenses? Will my ex and I be able to communicate well enough to co-parent effectively? This is unfamiliar territory, and thinking about these questions can feel overwhelming. Having a team of experienced professionals supporting you as you and your spouse move through the divorce process can make it less scary. In addition to having your own attorneys, the Collaborative Process uses neutral specialists who assist you in answering questions like these. How to tell our children about our divorce? A neutral child specialist helps you create a “we statement” for telling your children about your becoming unmarried. Your children will remember this moment for the rest of their lives, so you want to do it together, thoughtfully and with intention. The child specialist continues to work with you and your children in creating a parenting plan unique to your kids’ ages, needs and personalities. As part of your parenting plan, you and your spouse can agree to return to the child specialist for guidance if parenting issues arise in the future. How will we pay for our child’s expenses? A neutral financial specialist assists you in putting together a plan for sharing your children’s expenses. Rather than relying upon a generic child support calculator, you and your spouse openly discuss your children’s future expenses. For some couples, contributing to a joint children’s checking account makes the most sense. For others, having each parent take responsibility for certain expenses is more practical. By having a healthy discussion, you and your spouse can come up with a plan that fits your unique situation. Will we be able to communicate effectively for our future needs? A neutral coach helps you and your spouse understand and manage your emotions during the divorce process and can also guide you in methods to improve your post-divorce communications. Avoiding these conversations can leave you feeling angry and resentful, making it impossible to fully enjoy future events such as holidays, graduations, and weddings. By finding a way to move forward with your life with a positive attitude, you will make your children’s lives easier as well. If you are interested in learning more about the Collaborative Process, visit our website at www.colllaborativelaw.org to schedule a free consultation.
I heard a story about a 9-year-old girl who competed in ice skating. She told her coach that she wanted to become a lawyer when she grew up so she could help families stop fighting after divorce. “I am so sick of my parents arguing about who is going to pay for my skating tights.” Minnesota’s child support laws can calculate child support, but they do not tell you who pays for the skating tights. Or the music lessons. Or the school lunches. And sometimes parents feel resentful paying child support when they are making a payment to the other parent, and they don’t really see how that money is paying for the child. Just consider Kanye West’s song “Gold Digger”: