Parents know that back-to-school time means that their budget is going to be strained. There are a lot of “extras” (that aren’t really extra) that go into getting a child ready for school. The average family has to shell out between $272 and $360 per child before school even starts.
These added expenses can also create additional headaches for parents who are struggling to adapt to life after divorce. Without an effective parenting plan that addresses how these expenses are split, the financial burden can end up being lopsided.
Costs beyond what child support typically covers
If one parent is paying child support, they need to realize that their support only covers the bare necessities – not the extra expenses that come at the start of the school year. No parenting plan is really complete unless it discusses:
- Tuition costs: Will your children attend public or private school? If you choose a private school, how will the tuition and fees be divided?
- Clothing or uniforms: Ask any parent who has gone shoe shopping for their kids lately and you know that this is a major part of the back-to-school expenses. How much is each parent willing to set aside for this?
- Supplies and lab fees: These usually aren’t “optional” expenses, and they can really add up during the course of the year.
- Tutoring costs: Does one of your children struggle with their schoolwork? Do they need a tutor’s help? Which parent is willing to assume the costs?
- Electronics: These can also be expensive – and a necessity for school kids. Does your parenting plan address their purchase? What about the cost of internet service or a cellphone plan?
- Extracurriculars: Does one of your children want to play soccer? Does another want to be in band? Both are expensive prospects, so co-parents need to decide what they can afford.
By taking a realistic (and cooperative) approach, you and your co-parent can share the weight of the back-to-school season much more easily. If your parenting plan isn’t yet complete or needs to be revised, make sure you have appropriate legal guidance as you work through the details.