A divorce can be extremely hard on not only the couple, but on any kids they have together as well. Even if couples have a custody battle and need a custody evaluation, both parents are responsible for taking care of the child financially. Divorces are especially messy when it comes to figuring out how parenting expenses should be shared. In fact, it can take over a year if a couple fails to agree on the terms of a divorce. But whether a divorce was amicable or not, these simple tips can hopefully help divorced couples determine the best way to share expenses.

Have Open Communication

While some divorced couples may not want to even be in the same room as their ex, it’s important to communicate openly regarding parenting expenses. If a child wants to pick up an extra activity or go on a school trip, it’s up to the parents to determine whether or not they can go. It’s essential to keep the child in the loop so they can express their opinions on the subject. This way, both parents can understand the child’s point of view and come to a reasonable conclusion of whether or not it can be done. Parents should not demand their ex pay for something for the child just because it was their idea. Communication will help encourage open discussions on payment issues.

Create a Regulated System

One of the best ways to ensure divorced parents are paying fairly for their child’s expenses is to have a system in place. Expenses should be split evenly between parents based on income. This works great for mandatory expenses, like clothes (the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes each year), school books, and insurance, even though one in six Colorado drivers drove without insurance in 2012. Then, knowing the regular expenses are taken care of, parents can decide what extra things they want to pay for. If one parent wants the child to play soccer, then they can pay for that activity and maybe the other parent can pay for piano lessons if that’s what they want. It’s important to ensure the big expenses are covered first.

Follow Child Support Guidelines

Sometimes divorced parents can’t agree to pay expenses equally and a judge has to get involved. With there being over 300 bills waiting for Senate action, there are child support laws in place. So if one parent is legally required to pay child support, it’s important to follow the guidelines given by the court. If the paying parent doesn’t pay their entire portion, the receiving parent needs to be able to show this in court — so don’t take more money out of the payments than necessary. Additionally, if any new child support arrangement is made, it needs to be filed with the court so it can be checked properly during a court hearing.

Handling finances can be challenging as a divorced couple. But as long as the best interest of the child is kept in mind, divorced parents can make a difficult situation work.