As divorce rates soar, blended families are on the rise. A blended family consists of two adults and step-children that aren’t necessarily related. Blended families are becoming more and more common as divorced parents re-couple and create new family units, however, these families are subject to hidden costs and expenses that other families may not share. Read on to see some of the ways that blended families shell out extra money.
1. Child Support
Child support is usually paid out by the non-custodial parent. For blended families this could mean one or two extra child support payments each month that can take a sizable bite out of the family income, especially if there are multiple children involved.
Child support payments don’t just cost families financially, they can also put a strain on the new relationship because of financial problems, particularly if the new spouse wishes for the old spouse to seek a reduction in payments or other obligations. Children that are living with the newly formed family may resent the children that don’t live with the family if their living situation is better and they are also receiving support money.
The best way to resolve the stress of child support payments is to be open and honest with your partner about your obligations and feelings regarding them. If your new spouse or their children have any concerns, you should have an honest discussion.
2. Financial Aid
Children of divorce get the short end of the stick when it comes to financial aid. The application process is designed to be very tricky for blended families and few people including financial aid specialists at colleges and universities know all of the rules. This can lead to applications being delayed or denied all together causing some kids not to go to college or to drop out simply because of their family status.
It’s also important to note that if the custodial parent remarries, their partners income will be used to determine the award amount of the financial aid package for the student. This often causes disaccord between step parents and birth parents in determining who is responsible for footing the educational bill for the child. Often, parents of older children decide to remain unmarried, but in a committed relationship to help their child get better financial aid packages without the complications of a second marriage and step parent.
Blended families have another financial hurdle to cross when it comes to inheritances. If there will be an estate left behind, it can be difficult to determine how to divide the estate amongst the children, particularly if the bulk of the properties were gained by one parent or another.
Often, inheritances can cause hurt feelings and even legal action between step-siblings as one child may feel more entitled for being blood related. It’s best to make a clear will if you have an inheritance to leave behind and to make your wishes known to all parties before you pass so there are no surprises.
There are documents that can be drawn up to also ensure that assets are passed to biological children of an individual rather than the family of their second spouse. For example, if the biological parent passes, the step parent may retain access and use of a house until their death at which point it will then be transferred to the biological child of the original owner rather than the kin of the step parent.
Holidays are expensive enough with gifts and food and celebrations, but when you double the cost for an extended family, the bills really start to add up. Blended families mean double the presents for additional children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents and other family members.
It also means double the gatherings, double the celebrations and double the party costs. The holidays can be particularly stressful for step-siblings where rivalries over time and presents may become over the top.
Careful planning can help you avoid all of these pitfalls. Take the time to analyze your families situation and make a clear plan for your finances to avoid extra costs associated with blended families whenever possible. Making your goals and intentions clear to your family will also help resolve any bitterness or hurt feelings that could arise.