Divorced parents do have tools to help manage expenses

When a divorce is finalized, it can actually prove to be something of a relief to everyone from the spouses and their children to their relatives and friends. That’s because everyone is now free to adjust to the new reality, focusing their energy in the right direction and embracing stability.

For instance, former spouses will have some sort of stability concerning financial matters as both sides know what amounts must be paid and received each month for child support and alimony.

It’s important to understand, however, that outside of these monthly payment amounts determined by a formula and ordered by the court, there are sometimes expenses that fall into a sort of gray area for divorced parents that they are left to handle themselves.

For instance, a divorced dad may write a check to his former spouse to cover his share of soccer camp, baseball equipment, a musical instrument or other activities enjoyed by their children.

Problems can arise, however, if the divorced dad feels as if he is writing more and more checks, but is losing track of what exactly the money is covering and whether it is a fair percentage of the cost.

As you might imagine, this lack of transparency can rapidly cause strife among even the most amicably divorced couples.

Fortunately, computer technology has once again provided a viable solution to this problem.

Indeed, divorced parents whose children incur a variety of extra expenses can now purchase computer programs or apps that create a full accounting for both parents.

For example, one program allows a parent to create an expense report and attach a receipt. It then determines based on the formula selected (50-50, 60-40, etc.), how much the other parent owes and allows them to approve the expense, after which the money is transferred into an associated bank account.

Experts indicate that these seemingly simple programs, some of which have been around for over a decade, help minimize conflict by creating a shared sense of accountability among parents and addressing potential issues (gaps in payments, long periods between submission of receipts, etc.) before they become unmanageable. Furthermore, they limit the need for direct talks about money, which is always an inherently contentious subject.

While it’s encouraging to see these tools available to divorced parents, it’s also important for them to understand that if problems arise concerning child support — nonpayment, modification — they should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: Reuters, “Expense apps help divorced parents avoid anger,” Beth Pinsker, Feb. 3, 2015

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