￼Co-Parenting 101: Managing Finances as a Co-Parent
Managing Finances as a Co-Parent
Even under the best circumstances, talking about finances with an ex-spouse can be tough. But let’s face it — kids are expensive! So, good stewardship and regular communication in your blended family and with your ex are essential. Let’s get into it.
Blending a Family Means Budgeting Well
Child support is part of the package when it comes to remarriage and bringing stepchildren into our lives. If we’re in situations where the court has made an agreement that a certain amount of child support must be paid, it must also become a priority in our blended families. That means including it in the family budget every month.
We all know of situations where the obligation to pay child support wasn’t honored by one ex-spouse or another. It’s a situation that leads to overburden for the parent who finds themselves primarily responsible for providing for their child’s financial needs. Of course, it also negatively impacts the child, and nobody wants that to happen.
Whether you’re the parent who is paying child support or the parent who is receiving and managing those finances, it’s important to handle the situation and the money honorably and wisely. God has entrusted us with both His kids and His finances. What we do with both matters greatly.
Honoring Your Commitment to your Marriage, Children, and God
Honoring your commitment to your new wife or husband means honoring their children. Often, we’ll hear of a spouse in a blended family who doesn’t want to use their money to support their stepchild. A perspective like this brings about a myriad of issues for a new family. One way to avoid this problem is by having a serious conversation about finances and child support before tying the knot. It’s important that your new spouse knows that deciding to marry someone with kids means taking on all the responsibilities of raising a family — including financial responsibilities like child support.
Refusal to help with finances related to stepchildren causes major friction and disunity in a blended family. In fact, it’s a pain point that has caused many couples to experience divorce a second time. It becomes an issue not only of finances but also of the heart. Make the decision to budget for your blended family and serve them as God intended. He will provide.
Being diligent in our finances blesses our marriages — perhaps in more ways than we realize. When we come together with our new spouse, ready to co-parent in all areas (including money), God blesses our commitment.
Being a Good Steward of Child Support
If you’re an ex-spouse who is responsible for paying child support, perspective is everything. When we think of it as writing a check to an ex-spouse that we don’t like or trust, a root of bitterness can grow. But if we think of it as giving our children the opportunity to thrive — then our perspective changes. It means we’re honoring the child we helped bring into the world. Looking at money through this lens can make paying child support a blessing.
God values our generosity and the Bible points to this truth, time and time again. In Luke 6:38, Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap.” We serve a generous God, and we’re to mirror His heart for giving whenever it’s possible for us to do so.
Of course, it’s true that some parents have abused child support payments, using it to pay for things that have nothing to do with their children. In this case, writing a check to that person becomes extremely frustrating. But what we’ve seen in the headlines or in other relationships does not give us a reason to refuse to provide for our children financially.
Real talk? If you’re receiving child support payments, it’s paramount for you to use the money wisely and for the benefit of your child. Your ex-spouse may be in a situation where they are pulling from their savings account or refraining from taking family vacations (or making other big sacrifices) in order to care for the child you share. Honor their sacrifice. Do whatever you have to do to ensure the money is used solely for the child. When we use funds to bless our own lives without adequately providing for our children, we’re not honoring God. Looking at the money your ex-spouse provides as your money and not God’s will lead to a host of problems, including broken relationships with both your ex-spouse and your kids.
Remember that God is Jehovah Jireh (my Provider). He will provide. Therefore, as His children, we have no reason to use money unethically. Place your faith in Him and He will be faithful to meet your needs.
Go the Extra Mile to Build a Better Co-Parent Relationship
The best question we can be asking one another as co-parents is, “How can we work together?” This question is applicable to communication, discipline, and finances. One way we can successfully co-parent is by going the extra mile. And when it comes to finances, this might even mean giving more than is expected. That extra money could be the amount your ex-spouse needs to provide adequately for your child.
Obviously, a decision to give funds above and beyond your regular child support payment should be discussed with your new spouse first, but it’s something to be considered when there’s a little extra money. Perhaps you got a bonus at work or were able to save more than usual. The gesture of giving above and beyond will go a long way toward building trust and easing any tensions that might be present.
As children age, they become even more expensive. Extracurricular activities, a first car, college tuition, and insurance (not to mention all the expenses of the senior year!) all begin to pile up. As parents in blended families, we should always be asking ourselves whether we’re spending our money honorably. Ask God if He might want you to give more than what’s outlined by the court.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the original divorce decree may not reflect today’s prices or how many more expenses there are for a teenager. If you’re in a financial position to give — give. Many problems could dissipate if your ex-spouse doesn’t have to ask for the money because you gave it generously.
Though our flesh may not want to give more or do more, in the long run, it’s a blessing. As Scripture says in Acts 20:35, it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
If we’ve shown integrity in our finances and have given generously when possible, we’re more likely to be given grace by our ex when we experience harder financial times. For instance, if unexpected lay-offs or a pay cut comes, our ex-spouse is far more likely to show us understanding because they’ve seen us use our money honorably in the past.
The Golden Rule of Finances
Managing finances as a co-parent can be awkward, emotional, and difficult to navigate. But talking about finances is an essential piece of co-parenting. It’s also essential to remain faithful to your commitment, give with integrity, and pray regularly about how much you should give beyond the bare minimum.
Scott and Vanessa Martindale
Founders of Blended Kingdom Families