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Take the complexity out of shared expenses in child custody

Many aspects of child custody are difficult for parents to deal with. The shared expenses for the child are one of the issues that is going to continue plague your parenting relationship if you don't work with your ex to set up a clear plan for handling them.

These costs come in a variety of forms, including medical and school expenses. Your child custody agreement should clearly define what constitutes a shared expense so that you can plan for these. Here are some points to remember about handling these situations:

Who is going to pay for the expense?

When shared expenses come up, it isn't always possible for one parent to pick up money from the other parent. In these cases, the parent who is there will probably have to pay for what is necessary. For example, if a parent takes the child to the doctor and the child needs a prescription, the parent who is at the pharmacy will likely have to pay for the medication.

How will a reimbursement be made?

If one parent does cover the entire expense, reimbursement might be necessary. Discuss how this will be handled right now. Are repayments going to happen right away? Will you settle up once per month? Make the plans as detailed as possible to avoid issues in the future. You might find that you need to make different arrangements for varying expenses.

What limitations are there?

Consider including a monetary limit for shared expenses. Anything over that amount would need to be approved by both parents. Of course, exceptions in emergencies might occur. You should also think about what types of expenses are considered shared expenses and what kinds of exceptions there will be. For example, discuss whether both parents will cover equal shares of extracurricular activities or if one parent will pay for the activities he or she signs the children up for. Do the extracurricular activities need to be approved?

What is the plan if there is a disagreement?

Come up with a plan now for handling disagreements in the future. Even if you never need to use the plan, you might feel better knowing that it is in place. Think about emergency and non-emergency situations when you come up with the resolution method.

As is the case with many child custody matters, you shouldn't put the children in the middle of the expense-sharing matters. Let them be kids while they still have the chance.

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