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Wedding expenses can be a challenge for divorced parents

On Behalf of | Sep 3, 2020 | Family Law

When you and your ex divorced, your child was still in grade school. Now they’re grown, with a college degree and living their own life – until they ask for some help paying for their wedding. If you and your co-parent haven’t had to deal with child support issues in a while, having this monetary issue put in your lap can cause some stress – and maybe open up old sources of conflict.

How much the two of you decide to contribute towards your child’s wedding – and how you divide that contribution – is up to you. The key thing to remember, however, is that this wedding is about your child and their partner – not about either of you.

You may feel that your ex should contribute more because they’re wealthier. However, they may believe that big weddings are a waste of money and not feel obligated to contribute anything. One certified financial planner and wealth manager says that “the actual division of contributions should be based on what each parent is willing to contribute, no matter what their resources may be.”

It’s best if your child doesn’t try to pit the two of you against each other. However, if they’ve learned from years of experience that this helps them get what they want, don’t count on them not trying it. Nonetheless, whatever your decision about how much you’ll pitch in, you don’t have to engage in rhetoric like “Go ask your father for the money. He’s got more than enough,” or “Your mother’s the one who wants the big wedding. Let her pay for it.”

Some divorced parents want to be the ones who pay for the wedding to get more control over it. Your child, indeed, may feel obligated to give you more control of the wedding planning decisions or a greater portion of the guest list if you give them more money than your ex. Again, however, remember that it’s your child’s and their soon-to-be-spouse’s big day – not yours.

If you’re still in the process of divorce, even if your kids are nowhere near the age where they’re thinking about marriage, it may be helpful to include something in one of your agreements about wedding expenses – particularly if large, elaborate nuptials are expected in your family and/or social circle. Your attorney can provide some advice on how best to do that.