Divorce can look quite different depending on the age of your children (or if you have children at all). In a prior blog post, we discussed some of the factors you need to consider if you are going through a divorce without minor children, but there are specific circumstances to plan for if you are divorcing with minor children in the picture. Some of these circumstances are financial while others are more personal, and we will explore some of them below.
Emotional Conversations with Kids
One of the first steps of planning for divorce with minor children is having a conversation with them about what is going on. It is important to be intentional during this conversation and to keep in mind your children’s ages and ability to understand what is going on. The conversation should be age appropriate and should only include details they need to know. Even though divorce can be an emotionally charged time for everyone in your family, it is better to avoid negative speech and to help provide a sense of safety and security for your children during such an upsetting time. This includes refraining from disparaging your spouse in front of the kids or bringing them into your arguments. Having this conversation is an important step for your kids and speaking to a professional beforehand may set you and your children up for a healthier dynamic down the line.
Setting Parenting Expectations
Parenting after divorce will be a major discussion if minor children are involved. Even though it may be emotional to come to terms with custody arrangements, you will have to decide if you will share joint custody and who will be the residential parent. Not only do you need to consider day to day custody arrangements but it is also important to plan ahead for special times like holidays and vacations, so everyone involved has clarity. Aside from discussing custody and schedules, you will need to talk about how to make decisions about your child so they have consistent expectations. This might include decisions like when your child can have a cell phone, what activities they’re allowed to be involved in, and who they can spend their time with.
Aside from planning for emotional conversations and discussing parenting expectations, you will also need to consider the financial implications of divorce with minor children. One financial consideration is child support, which varies from state to state. In Ohio, the factors considered in the formula for child support are the incomes of both parties, parenting time, spousal support being paid, and expenses for the child (such as child care, health insurance, and more).
Another financial consideration for divorce with minor children is the plan for education savings. You might have a 529 plan or a Coverdell plan for college savings. There are some differences between these two types of plans, such as fees, contribution limitations, and age limits. Regardless of the type of plan you have, you will have to decide who has access to it and whether you are both committed to contributing. Separately, if you have healthcare savings, you will need to decide if you will both have access to the Health Savings Account (HSA).
Reach Out for Support
This post does not touch on every scenario or challenge you might encounter in a divorce with minor children, but it is a good place to start. If you are preparing for a divorce with minor children, contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation call. We would be honored to support you through some of the challenges that you may encounter in this process, and we look forward to working with you to make a plan that feels right for you and your family moving forward.