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How to discuss money matters with kids following a divorce

Ending a marriage will have an impact on the financial standing of all involved. Most Maryland spouses will find that running two separate households on individual incomes is a challenge. There will be numerous changes to come as the divorce moves forward and becomes final. Discussing those changes with one's children can also pose a challenge.

Parents should tailor those discussions to their child's age and maturity level. Very young kids do not need a great deal of explanation; they will simply accept the family's financial standing as the only scenario they have known. Elementary school children will require more detail and should be made aware that there will be some changes to the family's lifestyle. It may be necessary to talk about alternatives to summer camp, expensive after school activities or upgrading toys or electronics. Parents should try to stay positive about these changes, however, and focus on the chance to spend more time together.

For older kids, parents should make an effort to bring them into the decision-making process. Teens are often very good at finding creative solutions to problems, especially when the outcome directly affects them. Kids can take part in deciding which things can be cut from the family's budget and which should be prioritized. Older teens can also pick up a part-time job, and they can then decide for themselves whether certain expenses are worthy of consideration.

It may be tempting to ignore the financial changes that take place after a Maryland divorce, but parents should know that kids are highly attuned to changes in the family dynamic. A better approach is to be open and honest about the new financial realities and to bring kids into the discussion as soon as possible. In many ways, the financial lessons learned during a divorce can lead to essential skills that kids will carry into adulthood.

Source:, "After a divorce, how to talk to the kids about money", Melissa Montgomery-Fitzsimmons, May 26, 2016

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