Have you ever considered going to court over financial matters?  If so, please read on.

Add-on expenses are a soft spot for many divorced parents. When I hear from parents, many of them are frustrated over late reimbursements, expenses that are not in the agreement, or simply a complete neglect of add-on expenses. 

There are thousands of parents upset enough to storm into litigation over these expenses, and my advice to them is always the same – make sure you’ve done all possible to resolve your issue before filing a petition. If you haven’t been to family court yet, you might believe that this is where you’ll find justice, but trust when I tell you that this should only be considered as a last resort. The courts are overwhelmed with cases and judges that need to move them along, are prone to dismiss, or can’t discern the facts completely before coming to conclusions. 

This note isn’t intended to disparage judges or attorneys as they have the impossible job of understanding the dynamics of warring co-parents while at the same time doing their best to apply the law. It doesn’t help that, not unusually, parents can be dishonest in family court. I’ve heard attorneys say that people bring their best selves to criminal court and the worst version of themselves to family court.

Is it really worth it?

It’s also important to consider the emotional and financial cost associated with trial in family court. In many places, just retaining your attorney might start at $1,500 and jump to $10,000 with hourly rates ranging from $200-$500 per hour. Let’s assume an attorney’s rate of $300 per hour for preparing a petition and going to trial. If we assume this is 30 hours of total billed time, this example would cost $9000. 

Then, consider what you might gain from the experience. One outcome, of course, is that you lose and gain nothing. But even if you were to win, would it be worth more than $9000? Your ex will also likely spend a similar amount. In this example, a legal fight costs between a semester to a year of college tuition. Surely, if you’re considering a petition, your co-parenting relationship is already difficult, but after relitigating your divorce, it might be next to impossible. This would likely have a lasting impact on your children and reopen the wounds from the divorce. To my earlier point, the petition should only be considered as a last resort.

 

How A Co-Parenting App Can Help

Many parents have turned to using apps to navigate co-parenting challenges, but for them to work well, you’ll need your co-parent to use them with you, and getting your Ex on board not always easy. However, there is a new co-parenting app called DComply that lets parents save receipts and automatically email and bill the other parent for reimbursements. The other parent doesn’t need to download DComply to receive email reimbursement notifications, and the co-parenting app will offer proof of attempts to collect reimbursements. If a co-parent starts to make payments, that parent can download the app and send payment directly to your bank account. If a parent pays offline, the app has a paid offline button to record the transaction.   During this time of great uncertainty due to Covid-19 and layoffs, even if there is an actual inability to pay as ordered by the court, at least you can keep track of expenses and payment to resolve at a later date.

Part of a healthy co-parenting relationship is learning how to minimize conflict and cooperate to try and work together. The busy, complicated lives families lead make it complicated to keep up with family finances, and no one enjoys hassling someone for expenses and combing through bank statements to prove they did indeed pay for their share. When you use a co-parenting app like Dcomply, you’ll be able to create a more simple, streamlined system that makes life easier for everyone, with all payments, receipts, bills, and transactions in one place. 

Ultimately, if your co-parent continues to not comply with your agreement, DComply supplies a report that we recommend that you bring to a mediator to help provide an accurate summary of what has occurred. When all fails, mediation is the best course of action. It offers the opportunity for you and your ex-spouse to control your destinies and if done well can also be therapeutic for both parties. It also can cost less than half of litigation as mediation leads to quicker resolution, and parents are paying for one divorce professional rather than two of them.

When there is an abundance of resources and low-cost technology out there, there is no need to spend unnecessary time and money filing a petition over co-parenting money matters. By choosing to look into alternatives to better manage expenses, you are choosing to invest your time and money into what matters most – your children. While co-parenting is no walk in the park, by taking advantage of new technology for co-parenting, you can choose to make it a little bit easier.    

To learn more about co-parenting app DComply go to the App Store or Google Play to download it and use it free for 45 days. 

 

Please join Wendy Sterling’s private Facebook Group, The Divorce Rehab, for the link to access our LIVE Q&A about co-parenting and why you are “Better Apart, But Stuck Together”.  
 

P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!

 

With support and strength,

 

logo for Gabrielle Hartley, Esq. and Better Apart Divorce Coaching and Mediation

 

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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 

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