by Lee Block
Before the economy crashed, it seemed as if the gender specific roles post-divorce regarding money were pretty well laid out. But, times they are a changing! No longer are these roles set in stone. No longer is it always the father who pays the child support, while the mother stays home with primary custody. Sometimes, due to financial circumstances, the parents of children of divorce will still share a home, shuttling themselves back and forth instead of the children.
It is equally important that both the mother and father budget their money and know how to live within their new means. This could mean some fancy footwork when it comes to paying the expenses, but whether you have two left feet or not; you have to learn how to do that dance. Where do you start when times are already tough?
The first step is to map out a budget. If you are paying child support, this means that the obligation to your children comes before any other obligation you have. Putting that expense on the very top of your list, you still have to figure out how to afford to take care of your children when they are with you, which includes clothing. Taking everything into account, see what fits into your income level, and if you are living above your means, go without some luxuries so you can still put food on your table and pay your child support.
If you aren’t paying child support, but receiving it, it is important to remember that the child support is not going to cover every expense you have for the children. Just because you are on the receiving end, does not mean you also do not hold financial responsibility to take care of your children and yourself. When you write out your budget, put all your expenses down, and then subtract the amount of child support you receive and the bottom line figure is the amount that you must make in order to meet your obligations.
It is always easier if you can co-parent with your ex and split expenses down the middle when it comes to the kids activities, education, unpaid medical and birthday parties, but it does not always work that way. If you are on your own in paying for these things, be prepared and start to save for those rainy days that will come up. It is important to try to be as prepared for any type of disaster financially as you can. Now that you are a single parent, those things will fall solely on your shoulders, so it is up to you to be ready to handle them.
One of the most important things to not do while you are budgeting and changing your lifestyle is to hold resentment towards your ex. If you are paying support, don’t resent your ex for how they use that money. Assume they have the best interest of the children in mind when they spend that money. Remember you both decided to have these children and your ex is still paying their fair share of expenses as well.
If you are on the receiving end, don’t hold a grudge if you don’t think what you are getting is fair. Think about the kids, and the time they will spend with the other parent. That parent has to spend money while they have the children, which goes above and beyond the cost of the child support that you are currently receiving, so assume they are giving as much as they can and give them credit for giving in more ways than one.
Each party suffers a financial loss when divorce happens. No one walks away unscathed in the wallet, but in the end, be grateful for what you do have and don’t focus on what you don’t have. And, once again, remember it really is all about the kids.
Lee Block is a multi-talented, twice divorced mom of two who saw a need in the post-divorce community and created a family of sites centered around fulfilling that need. Lee has successfully launched The Post-Divorce Chronicles, Lee Block.Com, and The Post-Divorce Dating Club, all within a matter of months. Lee writes for the Huffington Post and was recently recognized by Startup Nation as a Leading Mom in Business in 2011.