Q. My soon-to-be ex and I earn the same amount of money. I have always been responsible for scheduling all our kids’ sports, lessons and doctor appointments. I have been the one setting funds aside for college. We had a pre-trial conference recently and the judge told us that since we have the same incomes and will have equal custody, I won’t get child support. I don’t understand how I can pay for all these things if I don’t get child support. I even pay for our family health insurance.
Am I agreeing to the wrong thing here? He wants to share custody but now I am questioning whether it is just to avoid paying his fair share. He is a spender, and I am a saver. Now he is going to get half of everything I saved during the marriage — he even wants half of the kids’ college savings. I don’t know how I will make ends meet.
A. It sounds like you are not using an attorney or a mediator. I suggest you find one or both to ensure your agreement is fair and reasonable. Right now, it sounds like your discussions are neither fair nor reasonable.
Plenty of couples share custody of their kids equally and earn similar sums so no child support is paid. This is where you absolutely need to get creative on sharing expenses. Just because you have always been responsible for scheduling/signing them up for things doesn’t mean you have to bear the financial burden. Agree on which expenses will be shared. The costs of historical sports, lessons and activities should be shared equally, including registration, uniforms, equipment, etc. (But for the record, a pony is not necessary equipment to taking riding lessons.)
Common additional expenses to share include cellular phone plans for the kids, driver’s education, tutoring, after school care (if necessary), summer camps, automobile insurance, and some people even agree to share major clothing purchases like new winter boots and coats.
In addition to these expenses, all uninsured medical expenses should be shared. You should also share the out-of-pocket costs to you for providing family health insurance. Figure out the cost difference between an individual plan and your family plan and agree that he will transfer half the cost to you on a monthly basis.
As for the manner for sharing these expenses, some people establish an account and equally contribute to it and use it to fund agreed upon child expenses, others have a monthly or quarterly true up, others maintain a joint credit card, charge all child-related expenses and equally share in the monthly bills (probably not the safest option).
Finally, given your concerns of his spending money, you should continue to serve as the sole custodian of the children’s college accounts. These are not assets to be divided. Provide him annual statements and you should ask him to agree on a set amount that you will each continue to contribute to these accounts.