No matter what type of child custody arrangement you have for the kids after a divorce, money is likely to be factor. After all, the cost of raising a child is so high that even the most committed parents can experience moments when sticker shock when confronted with the round number.
Yet every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture comes up with an estimate of how much it costs to raise a child from birth to age 18. This year, the round number is up to a whopping $235,000 for a child born in 2011 to middle-income parents.
Of course, some areas of the U.S. are more expensive to live in than others. Prices may not be as high in the Rockford area or downstate Illinois as in Chicago or the Northeastern corridor. By any measure, however, $235,000 is a lot of money - especially when it does not even include college costs (such as for college) incurred after age 18.
To be sure, children are priceless. It makes sense to be realistic, however, about what the tangible price really is. It's the only way you can craft a budget that reflects your goals for your financial future.
This is of course particularly true after a divorce. It's important to address all of the money issues in a comprehensive way before a court signs off on a final divorce decree. Money for child support is often an important factor to be considered when working toward a divorce settlement.
There are also other potential issues bearing on property division as well. For example, the issue of maintaining health insurance coverage for both spouses after a divorce is an important one for many people. Many spouses - most often women - could face a lack of health coverage once they are no longer on their ex-spouse's insurance.
Overall, then, it makes sense to think of child custody and property settlement in comprehensive terms. And to be realistic about the financial resources you'll need to rebuild your life after a divorce.
Source: "The Cost, in Dollars," of Raising a Child," New York Times, Nadia Taha, 11-13-12
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Rockford divorce page.