spending

Kids and Divorce

Divorced parents must communicate and work together to raise financially responsible children.

How would you suggest handling finances for a 13-year-old who spends most of her time with her dad and me (the stepmom), but her mom has primary custody? Her dad is paying child support, but this child is constantly asking us for money. She also expects us to buy her clothes whenever she wants them, and the mom just comes unglued whenever we mention to this child that we are paying child support.

Should we give her extra money when she can't get it from her mother? Sometimes she won't even ask her mom because she sees us as doing better financially. For this reason, she feels that we owe her more than the child support that we pay her mother.

If it's any consolation, you are dealing with a classic conflict involving children and divorce. Although each family's circumstances are unique, every situation has certain elements in common:

  • Kids are not above playing one parent against another. They will try to take advantage of parental guilt or resentment toward an ex-spouse to extort money, clothes, and other stuff.

  • Bad-mouthing an ex-spouse won't win over a child to your side. Kids can be fiercely loyal to both parents. Your stepdaughter doesn't really care about your child-support arrangements with her mother.

  • Divorced parents still share an interest in raising financially responsible kids. Whether divorced or married, parents should never hand out money or buy clothing on demand, or let kids think you "owe" them something just because you're well off financially.

  • All parents, including divorced ones, should speak to kids with one voice. That means they need to speak to each other first, in a nonthreatening way, to come up with a plan for dealing with the situation.

In your case, Mom and Dad should decide what they are willing to buy for their daughter, and what she should be expected to pay for on her own. If Mom is already buying clothes, Dad needs to know that. If Dad wishes to supplement those purchases, Mom needs to know that.

And they both should agree on a fixed allowance for their daughter -- possibly with each contributing a portion -- which she has to use for agreed-upon expenses, such as entertainment.

The point is, each parent should know approximately how much the other is spending, so that their daughter can't double dip.

Most Popular

Should You Consider a Roth Conversion While the Market is Down?
Roth IRA Conversions

Should You Consider a Roth Conversion While the Market is Down?

Investors who are hurting right now as the stock market takes a hit may want to console themselves with a possible tax bargain created by a Roth conve…
May 16, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
10 Substantial Stock Splits to Put on Your Radar
stocks

10 Substantial Stock Splits to Put on Your Radar

Stock splits can provide a short-term boost for investors. Here are 10 of the most notable names splitting their shares this year.
May 13, 2022

Recommended

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
spending

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?

The cost of a gallon of gas is heading back toward its March highs. What’s driving the resurgence, and will gas prices go down anytime soon?
May 5, 2022
How Our Family Fights Inflation
Budgeting

How Our Family Fights Inflation

Millennials typically spend more than other generations on certain expenses that have been increasing most rapidly. Here are some tips to cut your los…
April 27, 2022
ABLE Accounts Give Disabled More Financial Freedom
Financial Planning

ABLE Accounts Give Disabled More Financial Freedom

People with disabilities, and their families, can save for a variety of expenses in these tax-advantaged accounts.
April 27, 2022
Getting Married? Don’t Forget to Talk Money First
family savings

Getting Married? Don’t Forget to Talk Money First

Whether or not you merge your finances, you need to be on the same page.
April 26, 2022