When a marriage or other relationship ends and children are involved, figuring out parental responsibilities becomes one of the central issues.

Learning how to raise children together when you don’t live in the same house – also known as co-parenting – can be emotionally as well as financially challenging.

Start a conversation about money and co-parenting

While a divorce decree may dictate who is responsible for a child’s basic living expenses, many other costs will require communication and cooperation. To get the dialogue going, consider these tips:

  • Set expectations: As early as possible, talk to your ex-partner about what they can expect from you financially and what you expect from them. This can help avoid misunderstandings later on.
  • Create boundaries: Determine the areas where contributions will be necessary from both parents and those that are not — for example, planning for a child’s college education or private school tuition.
  • Carefully choose your battles: It is unlikely you and your ex will agree on everything. Consider whether it’s worthwhile to pursue financial or parenting issues where you differ widely. The best remedy may be to move on.

Create a strategy for all expenses

A co-parenting budget should include all shared costs for your child’s care, even if they aren’t split evenly. These are items, such as:

  • Babysitting services
  • Day care or after-school care
  • Health and dental care
  • Clothing
  • School tuition
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Birthday and holiday gifts
  • College savings accounts

Communication can save money and stress

Creating a clear co-parenting budget can not only help relieve financial worries, but also reduce anxiety and tension between former spouses. Working with your ex to reduce health insurance and day care costs as well as tax benefits for claiming a child as a dependent goes a long way to building a positive atmosphere. That effort not only helps former spouses but shows kids that their parents are still dedicated to doing what’s best for them.