Some people will advise parents considering a divorce that they will still need to cooperate with their ex until their children become adults. However, this advice, while well-intended, is short-sighted.
While your formal obligations to your child as outlined under Arizona state law may end when your child reaches adulthood or finishes high school, that doesn’t necessarily mean that young adults don’t still require parental guidance and support. Particularly if you and your spouse intend to negotiate a settlement for your divorce, you need to look realistically at your long-term parental obligations.
College requires significant parental contributions
Pursuing a higher education can help young adults achieve life-long dreams and may increase their long-term earning potential. However, a teenager fresh out of high school does not have the financial resources to cover their own educational costs.
If your child goes to a public college, that will cost an average of $9,687 per year, while a year at a private college will cost an average of $35,087. There are plenty of schools with prices in the middle, and some that are far higher than the average.
Although a family law judge won’t order you or your ex to continue paying child support for the duration of college, that doesn’t mean your children can pay for college without help. Rather than viewing support as an obligation to the other parent, it’s crucial that you reframe it as something that helps the children. You may be able to reach a mutual agreement in your settlement that ensures there will be resources to help your children get the degree they need for the future they want.
Shared special days will continue to come up for the rest of your life
After high school graduation, there may be college graduations, weddings and first birthday parties to attend. Even when your children become adults, you probably can’t fully avoid your ex without having a negative impact on special days for the people you love.
Trying to view your ex as your partner in parenting rather than a spouse who disappointed you can be a great way to reframe your relationship and help you prioritize the whole family during special events involving your children. While it can be hard to keep a focus on those big picture issues early in a divorce, your children will certainly thank you if you prioritize their needs as you share custody.