05 Feb Stepfamilies: The Top 12 Financial Issues
Money can be a bitter battle before, during or after a divorce. And paying alimoney or child support to the other home is often a VERY sore spot when considering a remarriage.
It’s important to remember that the children from the first marriage will not have compassion or an understanding of the financial strain a remarriage brings. Often the parent and stepparent expects the child to understand or sacrifice after the remarriage or the addition of another baby.
Children dont view the remarriage the way the adults do. So it’s crucial to discuss financial issues before the relationship goes too far.
And when considering a marriage to someone who has kids (young or old) its extremely important to discuss the “green stuff” and the future financial implications.
For those who are not yet married, or have married but didn’t have an in-depth conversation about money beforehand, this list is a great way to launch the conversation.
The biggest mistake many couples make is waiting until a crisis occurs.
- What are your financial obligations to the other parent / ex-spouse? Do you pay child support and alimony? When do your child support obligations change or end?
- How often will the child support payments be revisited, and what is the likelihood of an increase or a decrease in payments in the future?
- Do your financial obligations, a court order, or your own personal convictions prevent you from moving out of state should a better job opportunity arise?
- Other than child support and alimony, what are your monthly expenses for your children? Do you pay for medical, dental, private school, additional tutoring, counseling, etc.?
- Do you have money saved if your child needs counseling or we encounter a legal/court battle?
- Have you discussed educational expenses, such as private school, tutoring or college with your former spouse? If so, what was decided? If not, when do you plan to do that?
- What about a will or a trust for the children? What are the financial plans for the child should something terrible happen to you?
- Who is currently your executor? Will your children be resentful if I am the beneficiary of your estate?
- When it comes to supporting your family; do you have financial expectations of me? College tuition? Groceries? Mortgage? Medical?
- When your children become adults do you plan to still provide for them, or allow them to live with us?
- Do you have a retirement plan? If so, how much is in it? What are your plans to continue saving for retirement? Is any of it designated to your former spouse?
- Do you plan or desire for my biological children to inherit some of your estate? Should they be included in your will or trust?
- Can I please see your financial portfolio and your debt portfolio?
- What if we have an “ours” baby? How will the finances change?
- Is your family involved in the financial decisions for your children?
Obviously, asking these questions BEFORE the marriage or remarriage is the wisest step. But even if you haven’t done so yet, it’s crucial to have this conversation.
Make that appointment with a lawyer or financial planner today.
Often a professional who isn’t emotionally involved can give you the best advice and ask key questions to protect your future. Ignoring the hard-financial questions only creates stress in the end. Planning and preparing is the way to keep the decisions, tensions and anxiety at a minimum.
Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, stepfamilies, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery.
She is the author of When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom, The Smart Stepmom, co-authored with Ron Deal and Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. Laura is a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. She has spoken at the Billy Graham Training Center and has been featured on Focus on the Family. Laura and her pastor husband of thirty-two live in Cumming, Ga. She can be found at www.TheSmartStepmom.com