In case you haven’t heard, there is a new phenomenon sweeping the globe called “future proofing” your children. It is a sort of movement started by author and speaker, Nikki Bush, in her popular book, Future-Proof Your Child. The focus of the book is coming to an understanding, as parents, or really as any type of care giver to a child, of the future. What types of jobs will be available for children twenty years from now? What types of education will be most valuable? What about technology and its role down the line?
While it is, of course, important to prepare children for their futures as best we can, is there a way to prepare ourselves for the financial support of our kids, until they are finally able to leave the nest and support themselves? Separated parents face a complicated situation where both of them are financially responsible for the care and well-being of their child. This is complicated because each parent is also supporting their own separate household, which was not an issue when still living together. Salaries may remain but costs have increased, sometimes, dramatically.
So, how can you “future proof” your child support arrangement with your ex? First, and most importantly, it is crucial for the two of you to sit down and attempt to work out a fair and reasonable child support arrangement. The less time you spend fighting with each other, especially in the courtroom, the less money you will spend on litigation expenses, including attorneys. This will leave even less money in the pot for your kids. Take into account your respective incomes and expenses and come up with a figure that is livable.
If the two of you cannot agree, the court will impose a child support figure and will, most likely, use the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines; a computer program that takes into account income and overnights spent with the children, as well as other out-of-pocket expenses. That figure will remain fairly static, except for minor cost-of-living increases every few years. Of course, as children get older, they require more expensive clothing and more food, so the guidelines do allow for a different calculation if the child is an adolescent.
It is beneficial to the entire family to try and contemplate future expenses. This is difficult if your child is an infant, of course. But, at least try to agree (and put in your written agreement) on items such as who will contribute to items such as summer camp, music lessons or car insurance. You can certainly agree to sit down in the future and exchange financial information at that time, which makes sense, since salaries, careers and even geography can change quickly in this day and age.
Also, try to think about paying for college. While college tuition is not a part of basic child support, if you and your ex can at least agree to contribute based upon your ability to pay at the time your child becomes of age, you will avoid unpleasant surprises and possible heated exchanges. And, tuition is not the only expense. There are also books, commuting fees, expenses for dorms, etc. Trying to lay some ground work now regarding how to handle these issues in the future will assist you both greatly when the time comes.
If you and your ex are confused about how to calculate appropriate child support now, or need some ideas on how to make your child support arrangements “future proof,” please contact us today to schedule your initial appointment with one of our qualified family law attorneys, experienced in child support an custody matters.