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Divorced and Broke: Money and Children

It’s common that when going through a divorce, money is tight. When children are involved, there is the added concern of wanting to keep their lives as normal as possible. Normal translates to keeping things as they had grown accustomed.

That combination, worry about money and wanting to provide for the kids, can be a stressful situation.

Some parents concern themselves with wanting to keep their kids in the matrimonial home. They believe the stability will be good for them. Others want to continue with the kind and value of gifts their children are accustomed to. Be it for birthdays, Christmas or other significant events. Still too are any holidays that families enjoyed with regularity as well as summer camps and/or extra-curricular activities.

Parents are cautioned against making financial decisions they cannot really afford. In the short run, it may seem to favor the well-being of the children. In the long run it can undermine financial stability and security.

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Divorce for many will bring about change and will for many, feel disruptive. While it is nice to smoothen the transition for kids, if it comes at the expense of future security or even your mental health in terms of worry or anxiety, this will likely not serve them. This is where parents must keep their own feelings of guilt in check and continue to make sound financial decisions.

One of the best gifts a parent can provide their children is the ability to cope.

Rather than downplaying your financial situation, the real key to helping them is letting change occur. Keep supporting them emotionally through that process. This is not to say you need share the details of your financial situation and certainly not to cast blame on the other parent. However, it is reasonable to explain that two apart cannot live as cheaply as two togethe. With additional expenses, spending needs to change.

If you are concerned financially, a consultation from a divorce financial professional may be of value. This are financial professionals who are not there to sell you financial products, but rather help you take a serious look at your financial situation to help you determine what you may afford and even what a reasonable financial settlement may be. Having a good understanding of your finances can ease your stress and determine reasonable spending on behalf of the kids.

And lastly, just to say, happy kids are not those whose parents spend beyond ability. Happy kids are those who grow up with parents who themselves are financially responsible so in turn their children may be so too. Their happiness stems from learning to live within their means and an ability to manage debt.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 350 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.

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