Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging process, and when children are involved, navigating shared expenses and financial obligations can add another layer of complexity. As a family law firm, DuBois Levias Law Group’s primary goal is to help divorced parents smoothly manage co-parenting responsibilities while ensuring that their children’s needs are adequately met. There are a few important things to consider when building understanding of child support laws, preparing for mediation, and staying organized during the post-divorce period. Fortunately, there are some essential tools and resources that divorced parents can use to effectively track and manage these shared responsibilities.
1. Understanding Child Support Laws
Child support is a crucial aspect of co-parenting, and it is essential to have a clear understanding of the laws governing it. We will guide you through the legal intricacies and ensure that you know your rights and obligations before entering mediation. In Washington state, child support typically includes a basic monthly payment, which is determined based on factors like the parenting time arrangement and both parents’ income. Understanding this monthly payment (schedule) will help you anticipate the financial aspects of co-parenting.
In addition to basic child support, there are other child-related expenses that parents may share. Some mandatory shared expenses might include medical insurance premiums, uninsured healthcare costs, and work-related childcare costs. Optional expenses, such as extracurricular activities and post-secondary education expenses, can be agreed upon but should be handled with careful communication and documentation.
2. Preparing for Mediation
Mediation is a valuable process to reach agreements on co-parenting responsibilities and shared expenses without the need for court intervention. Sometimes the parents do not agree on an activity for their child or don’t have sufficient funds to share in the cost. It might be a good option to mediate these disputes and many parenting plans require mediation before going to court.. A family law attorney can help you prepare for mediation by equipping you with the knowledge necessary for you to engage in meaningful discussions during mediation and reach mutually beneficial agreements (while avoiding any screaming matches).
3. Staying Organized to Make this Process Easier
Effective organization is essential when dealing with shared expenses and co-parenting after divorce. Being organized will not only prevent misunderstandings but also save you time and money in the long run. Here are some strategies and tools to stay organized:
➞ Know Your Parenting Plan and Orders: Carefully review and familiarize yourself with the details of your parenting plan, child support order, and divorce order and/or property settlement agreement. Knowing what is stipulated in these documents will provide clarity on your rights and responsibilities.
➞ Save Your Receipts: Keep a record of all shared expenses and receipts, whether it’s for medical bills, child care costs, or extracurricular activities. This documentation will be crucial in ensuring fair cost-sharing and can serve as evidence should any disputes arise. Request reimbursement shortly after incurring the expenses. Or arrange to pay the provider your share of the cost directly.
➞ Utilize Available Tools and Tech: Two popular apps that divorced parents can use are “Talking Parents” and “Our Family Wizard.” These platforms enable parents to record and split expenses, share calendars, and maintain transparent communication.
Dealing with shared expenses and co-parenting after divorce may seem overwhelming, but with the help of a dedicated family law firm, the process can be much smoother. Understanding child support laws, preparing for mediation, and staying organized are key steps in ensuring successful co-parenting and meeting your children’s needs. Remember, this is a partnership and you’ve got a support system. Your family law firm is here to handle the legal heavy lifting and provide guidance, so you can focus on building a positive and nurturing environment for your children as you all navigate through this challenging phase.
DuBois Levias Law Group