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Your children's financial future and unplanned changes

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When you experience a family transition like divorce or separation, you will most likely experience some sort of financial changes. If you were married or in a committed partnership, you will need to figure out how to split assets and debt. Everyone needs to figure out their own financial survival plan after a family transition.

While budgeting month to month is very important, you will also need to think about the future costs of raising your children. Here are some financial questions that will help you begin to think about life events and unplanned changes that may affect you and your children's financial future.

  • How can you make sure that you'll be financially independent after your divorce, so you can meet the needs of your children?
  • Child support is one source of income for your children. What will you do if the other parent can't pay child support due to losing a job?
  • What happens if the other parent dies? Do you and the other parent have life insurance in place to help support the children? Do you understand Social Security survivor's insurance?
  • What happens if either parent has a disability and can't work? Do you have disability insurance?
  • Do you know where to find other income and support for food, heating, etc. if needed?
  • Who should claim the dependent child exemption?
  • Will both parents take on financial responsibilities after a child is 18 years old and no longer in high school? Which parent fills out the FAFSA form for your children when they attend college? Will both parents provide financial support for higher education?

All families have situations when income is reduced because:

  • a parent leaves work early
  • comes to work late
  • leaves work to go to school or care for children.

Are you prepared for these situations financially? In one-parent households these costs are often harder to manage.

Think of other unplanned changes that could affect you and your children's financial future. The more you can try to work with your children's other parent to plan for the potential changes, the better you will be prepared should those changes actually occur.

Madeleine Alberts, Children, youth and family program leader; M. Kathleen Mangum, Sandra Syverson, Barbara Radke, and Minnell Tralle, Extension educators in family resiliency


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