Divorce and custody negotiations are stressful. How do you know what things to ask for in divorce?
It’s easy to want to plow through negotiations as quickly as possible.
Slow your roll.
Here is a list of what every woman should consider when settling her divorce.
What should a woman ask for in a divorce settlement?
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.
Check out Care.com for an excellent selection of pre-screened, affordable sitters and nannies in your area.
Read more: The only divorce checklist you need
Life insurance policies
Every mom needs a life insurance policy, even moms with no income of their own.
Your kids should be named as beneficiaries.
This life insurance calculator from Haven Life will help you understand what you need, and how much it will cost you (I bet you didn’t know that you can get $1 million of insurance for $9 per month!).
Check it out here:
Private school tuition
If this is relevant. If your kids will continue to attend private school, nail down during divorce who will pay for tuition, books, uniforms, school trips and other related fees.
Long-term care insurance
Especially for women aged 50 and older, you need a plan to pay for long-term care insurance.
About 70 percent of people in the U.S. will require some kind of long-term care in their lives, and 18 percent of women will require it for 5 or more years.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that it costs on average $92,376 per year for long-term care in a nursing home.
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.
Alternatively, make sure you get in writing that you have permission to travel internationally with your kids.
You may assume that you and your ex are on the same page when it comes to exposing your children to the world, or visiting relatives abroad.
However, your relationship with your ex could become contentious at any time, and that Mexico trip you planned for winter break can become rife with conflict.
Better to make this clear on the front-end.
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.
A tax professional at TurboTax can help you minimize your taxes.
Decide what makes sense for covering the the kids, and equitable payment for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
Typically this is divided equitably based on each spouse’s income.
If one of you has a generous health benefit through your employer, then it may make sense for that parent to assume this responsibility.
Compare the leading carriers side-by-side here: Affordable Health Insurance.
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, or ‘visits’ with 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.
Also, when you have a co-parent who equally shares time caring for the kids, this means you have more time to work and earn — which is good for the whole family.
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.
Create a parenting plan without an attorney with RocketLawyer.
Shared time for vacation
Shared responsibility for caring for kids on summer, 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.
Instead of arguing with your ex about taking time off, find a great sitter on Care.com and agree to share costs.
Kids have their own beds
Your ex may expect the kids to share a bed, share a bed with him, sleep on a couch or the floor. Get it in writing now.
Guidelines for holiday and vacation schedules
This is a great opportunity to lay out how you will share special occasions and holidays with your ex.
However, keep in mind that you will need to be flexible and accommodating.
Life is long and complex — and both of you will likely seek and need this to be fluid going forward.
Depending on your family’s heritage and traditions, it may be important to you and your kids’ dad to prioritize saving for and sharing the cost of celebrating your kids’ bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, graduations, communion, baptisms, quinceanera, and prom.
Routine safety provisions in the other parent’s home: No guns, window locks, smoke alarms, etc.
Care and estate planning for disabled children
Make sure there are provisions to continue support and related care indefinitely.
Companies like Rocket Lawyer help you create a legally binding estate plan and will for an affordable fee.
The 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.
This can include mandated co-parenting classes, regular, scheduled meetings with your ex, as well as your significant others (or other relatives actively involved in your kids’ lives, like grandparents who live nearby).
By initiating thing to ask for in a divorce on the front-end, you set a precedent for collaboration and communication that can carry you forward for the rest of your kids’ lives.
Some of the links in this and other posts generate a commission. I never recommend products that I don’t truly believe in. Seriously – I get asked to write about stuff all the time and turn down hard cash if I’m not feeling it.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.