When a marriage ends and children are involved, the primary issue is adopting a co-parenting plan where former spouses work together to raise their kids even though they may live apart.

Raising children can be expensive in a two-income household, but it can be even tougher to manage your finances after a divorce. However, working together can provide savings for both parents.

Establish and maintain productive communication

While getting along with your ex may not be possible following a divorce, maintaining a civil discourse over your kids’ well-being is essential. A divorce decree may spell out who is responsible for basic living expenses for children but discussing other costs can help both parties. Start the conversation by:

  • Setting expectations: Let your ex know what they can expect from you financially and what you expect from them. This can help avoid miscommunication and arguments later.
  • Establishing boundaries: Set rules as to what issues are acceptable to talk about as well as those that aren’t. For example, talking about sharing private tuition costs may be OK, but discussing personal savings and income may be off-limits.
  • Picking your battles wisely: Former spouses rarely agree on everything. However, if you butt heads over co-parenting or financial issues, consider whether it’s worth fighting over and move on to more important matters.

Create a co-parenting budget

Having a plan for sharing child-related expenses with your ex can help you plan for the future and head off potential headaches down the road. Make a list and decide who is responsible for which expenses and how much. A co-parenting budget includes things like:

  • Day care or after-school care
  • Babysitting costs
  • Your child’s extracurricular activities
  • Health and dental care
  • Private school tuition
  • Birthday and holiday gifts
  • Clothing

A clear plan can save money and avert conflicts

Developing a comprehensive co-parenting plan can help make your post-marriage life easier by helping you get along with your former spouse while saving money. A civil relationship can help keep costs low in other ways, such as when families on good terms can help with childcare needs.

Working together can help defray some of the most expensive costs, such as health insurance, by choosing the most cost-effective plan or accessing a Health Savings Account. You may also decide to help each other out by alternating years when claiming your children as dependents on your tax returns.