One of things that I do on a regular basis at Tracy Jones Mediation is assist divorcing parents with effective and yet reasonable ways to agree on and pay for many of the additional children’s expenses associated with raising children. These expenses often include such topics as the following: Healthcare, Childcare, School/Activities Expenses, etc. As formal child support is often only intended to address housing, food and typical clothing; it is important to address as many of the other expenses associated with raising children during the divorce mediation process. so that unexpected events do not present further conflict at a later point. My aim during divorce mediation is to provide a clear and yet specific structure regarding how parents would go about dividing these expenses when getting divorced.
First, we start with healthcare and divide this into “reasonable and necessary” which is the terminology that the health insurance companies. Then we discuss how the parents will pay for children's healthcare premiums as well as all out-of-pocket costs such as co-pays, deductibles, prescriptions, etc.. Lastly, we address elective healthcare expenses such as braces.
Next, we discuss how the parents will pay for employment-related childcare. While this is an expected expense divorcing parents are often left with a vague sense of how much each parent is expected to pay. Consequently, during divorce mediation we will address childcare as relevant to each parent’s employment schedule and the costs incurred. As long as each parent’s income is relatively similar, this cost is often a 50% financial responsibility for each parent. However, if there is a significant difference between the incomes of the two parents, this expense can be divided in a different percentage or even exclusively paid for by one part.
Lastly, we address ongoing or recurring expenses associated with school, activities, etc. as well as more random and/or one-time expenses during divorce mediation. The typical approach here is that we establish a threshold under which each parent will be responsible for any expenses that they incur on behalf of the children. Then, anything above this threshold would be divided in a pre-determined percentage (something that the parents would agree upon ahead of time) as long as they had a mutual agreement ahead of time to incur this cost.
My aim during divorce mediation and when negotiating children's expenses is to allow individuals to mediate the divorce process as affordably and quickly as possible ensuring their children are not caught in the middle and further permit both child and parent to move on with their lives as establish normalcy as quickly as possible.