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Talking about child support: It's easier than you think!

Dividing parenting time during and after a divorce can be difficult enough, but how do you decide how to split your financial duties? Identifying appropriate child support amounts can be a challenging undertaking, especially when income levels are disparate between parents. You may want to send your children to an expensive class or camp, for example, but your co-parent may not entirely agree with the decision. How do you decide how to split everyday expenses and special costs through your child support agreement? Here are some basic tips for negotiating this very important document.

Remaining organized is one of the most important parts of maintaining a fair child support agreement. Experts would call this "creating a system" for the equitable distribution of responsibility. Consider the situation of a mother who makes $50,000 each year and a father who brings in $25,000. These parents would not realistically split costs "down the middle;" rather, the "moneyed" parent would be expected to pick up a larger percentage of the costs, perhaps as much as double that of the lower wage earner. Parents can use this formula in a long-term situation, perhaps dividing the cost of a youngster's art classes or splitting specific expenses related to the purchase of a vehicle.

Communication is also key to managing your child support costs. Parents should be on the same page about everyday expenses, medical expenses and monthly payments, for example. If one parent wants to purchase an extravagant item -- and intends to force the other parent to contribute -- the system is not working. Remain calm, avoid negative statements and simply hold a mature conversation about the matter -- you will be surprised at how effective both of you can be when you make a rational decision.

Finally, make sure that you are judicious with the amount of financial information that you share with your child. You do not want to over-share about your money problems, causing your child to feel guilty about items received from the other parent. Using these tips, you and your ex can successfully navigate the financial challenges associated with child support. If problems persist, an attorney may be able to provide you with the legal support you need to obtain the child support payments you deserve.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "How to Split Parenting Expenses With Your Ex," Geoff Williams, July 23, 2015

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