If you pay child support, you know that your support is designed to cover your share of your child's basic expenses -- like food, shelter and clothing.
However, there's nothing basic about the back-to-school season and the expenses that go along with it. If you want to be fair to your child and maintain a good co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse, it might be wise to consider chipping in on the back-to-school expenses.
Here's how to handle the issue the smart way:
1. Find out what your child needs and make an agreement.
Your child's school will usually give you a list of required supplies. In addition, there may be uniform requirements (or new school clothes), shoes and accessories (like backpacks) that your child is going to need.
Open a conversation via email or text (so that you have a record of it) with your ex-spouse and find out what your child needs. Then offer to pick up specific items yourself and drop them off. That way, you know that the money is going toward school-related needs and nothing else.
2. Talk about extracurricular activities.
If your child is at the age where they want to start trying out for theater or wants to be in the band, there are going to be more expenses. School field trips and class trips can also be pricey.
Make an agreement with your spouse about how much you can afford to chip in on these kinds of expenses. If you can cover half, say so -- but make it clear that you can't do anything more.
If your current child support agreement isn't working out, it may be time to seek experienced legal guidance so that you better understand your obligations and rights.