In many ways, raising teenagers is more hands-off than caring for younger children. Teenagers are largely capable of meeting their own needs and following basic rules, unlike younger children. However, there’s a trade-off for the reduction in the direct supervision required for a teenager’s safety.
The overall expense for teenage children is often much higher than that for younger dependents, if one does not take private daycare expenses for very young children into account. Teenagers often demand an increasing portion of a household’s disposable income for their various needs. Those costs won’t necessarily lead to an increase in child support, which means that parents may need to address certain financial issues before they arise.
1. Vehicles and insurance
Getting a driver’s license is expensive. Driver’s education costs money, and insuring a teenage driver isn’t cheap. Parents may need to talk ahead of time about how they will handle the cost of driver’s education, a young adult’s first vehicle and their insurance premiums. Without a plan in place, one parent may end up struggling to cover the costs without support, or the family may have to delay a teenager’s use of independent transportation.
2. Educational costs
Private school tuition and college tuition are both huge expenses that can have a profound impact on a household’s finances. However, if parents don’t have a pre-existing agreement for them to pay for private school tuition, the courts may not adjust child support to cover such costs.
Additionally, college tuition likely will not be part of the official child support order for a couple, as state law ends support obligations when a child turns 18 or graduates high school. For parents to help ensure that their divorce won’t affect their children’s educations, careful negotiation of how to cover those expenses may be a necessary step.
3. Mobile phones and service
Mobile phones cost hundreds of dollars, making the newest models unattainable for a teenager making minimum wage. It may be necessary to talk about how the parents will share the cost of purchasing a phone, replacing it if it breaks, and maintaining service on the device. Those costs can quickly add up, especially if there are multiple young adults in the family.
Especially for families with a high standard of living, child support matters can become complicated and require consideration beyond what the courts will order. Recognizing and addressing issues that can complicate child support arrangements can help parents to minimize tensions and the risk of disputes while co-parenting.