It can be difficult to have a neutral, fact-based discussion with your estranged spouse in the midst of a divorce. However, it is imperative to do your best to always be calm and straightforward, especially when it comes to discussing matters about your children, including child support. Unfortunately, a lack of communication can interfere with your ability to resolve your divorce issues.
Settlement of issues such as child support is often best for everyone, including your child(ren) because it keeps you out of litigation and it allows you to focus your financial resources on your child instead of on lawyer fees and court battles. If there is any chance that you and your co-parent can agree on child support together, it is worth trying to overcome a communication breakdown. The tips below may help in that goal, allowing you and your co-parent to make personalized, child-focused decisions.
Prepare for the discussion
Topics that include both children and money are hard to navigate in any divorce. One spouse may worry they are being taken advantage of, or that the other spouse is being greedy, while the other may be concerned that the potential payor spouse is being stingy or unsupportive of their child’s needs. To demonstrate your good intentions if you’re seeking child support, for example, bring financial evidence showing how much child support the children need and why. This is particularly important if you were the one managing the finances during the marital relationship; the other spouse may not realize how much school supplies, groceries, clothing, and extracurricular activities cost. It may also be useful, depending on your circumstances, to come prepared with estimated child support guidelines to demonstrate that the amount you are seeking (or offering to pay) has a legal basis.
Keep it private
Some people believe it best to discuss personal matters in public to discourage outbursts. However, this can feel like an ambush if one party does not expect such an intimate topic of conversation. Instead, consider discussing child support when you are alone and can express your opinions openly and without disclosing your family’s personal financial affairs.
Remember the golden rule
It is so easy for conversations to devolve into chaos during a divorce. Know how you prefer to be treated and deal with your co-parent in that manner. Remain neutral and factual in tone. Keep the focus on how all of this is for the benefit of your shared child(ren). You may find that child-related discussions with your spouse actually become easier as you move through the divorce.
Sometimes nothing can improve parental conversations, but you must still communicate if you’re co-parenting your kids. Having legal guidance can help.