Divorce and custody negotiations are stressful. It’s easy to want to plow through negotiations as quickly as possible. Slow your roll. Here’s what every mom SHOULD ask for in your divorce negotiations.
Here are 14 things every mom should ask for in a divorce:
- Fair share of child care, after-school, camp and extracurricular activities. Especially if your kids are tiny, it can be hard to imagine that one day they may require thousands of dollars annually in these costs, but ask any parent: They add up to a lot. Each parent should be expected to pay their share, dependent upon income (which will likely change in which case you will revisit the equation). Many women who were stay-at-home moms fail to demand payment full-time child care because they have a hard time imagining that they will need it — or simply can’t let go of their dream of staying home.
- Equal parenting time. I elaborate in detail here why this is important. By asking your kids’ dad to take responsibility as a parent — and not just ‘give’ him minimum ‘access’ to his kids — it dramatically reduces the conflict between you, dramatically increases the chances he will be actively involved (and not skip out on parenting), and that he will pay any support or extras that is required of him. I know it can be hard — I was adamantly opposed to this initially — but expecting equal time of both parents is good for kids, parents, men and feminism.
- Shared responsibility for caring for kids on school holidays, breaks, half-days and when kids are sick. See above. This time can be seen as a blessing, or a burden, but it must be taken care of, and it is both parents’ responsibility to arrange care, or take time off work. We can’t close the pay gap until this happens.
- Private school tuition share, if this is relevant.
- Passport and written permission to travel internationally with the kids (or not). Whether you have family in another country, envision vacationing abroad, or otherwise, every mom needs to establish this now, including if you have actual legal reason to worry your kids’ dad will kidnap your kids abroad, and want to make sure this is addressed at the time of travel.
- College tuition. Some states like Illinois require that divorced parents pay a share of college costs. Establish how much each parent must contribute to a college investment fund, or pay at the time of enrollment. One tactic that works for many families: Once kids age out of child care, reallocate those funds to a 529 college investment account.
- Who claims children on taxes. Many families either take turns claiming the kids, or otherwise equally split the deductions in an equitable way, for example, divvying up health insurance, child care or other kid-related deductions. If your ex has a history of not paying his share, make sure you take the deductions.
- Health insurance for the kids, and equitable payment for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
- Life insurance policies in which kids are named as beneficiaries.
- Kids have their own beds.
- Routine safety provisions in the other parent’s home: No guns, window locks, smoke alarms, etc.
- For disabled children, provisions to continue support and related care indefinitely.
- Right of first refusal. This means that if one parent can’t be with the kids on their assigned days, the other parent has first dibs on that time.
- Mandated co-parenting classes.
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