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Navigating wedding costs as divorced parents

Recently, we discussed tips for dealing with your co-parent during your child's graduation and surrounding celebrations. Now, we're going to look at another big event that too often causes conflict between divorced parents of young adults -- their child's wedding.

A wedding often comes with more complications than a graduation. Before you even get to the big day where you'll need to deal amicably with your ex and their family in a public setting, there's often the matter of paying for the event.

Likely, you didn't address your child's wedding expenses in your child support agreement or other divorce documents. That day may have seemed far away. Now it's approaching, and your child needs some help paying for the wedding.

Maybe their future in-laws have offered to pay for it, but you want to do your part. The problem is, how do you and your co-parent split the wedding costs -- particularly if you have different views on how large and elaborate the festivities should be?

It's best, of course, when you and your co-parent can communicate amicably about how to divide the wedding expenses. It's even better when your child can sit down with both of you to discuss their wishes. Remember that your focus should be on your child and not on residual anger and resentment toward your ex.

Typically, the parent with the greater amount of resources will contribute more. However, one certified financial planner advises that "the actual division of contributions should be based on what each parent is willing to contribute, no matter what their resources may be."

Often, parents believe that their say in the wedding arrangements should be based on how much they're paying for. This can cause fights with future in-laws, but also between divorced parents. You shouldn't see your contribution to the wedding costs as an excuse to have a greater say in the wedding planning than your co-parent. Ultimately, your child and their future spouse should be the decision-makers.

Even if you can't contribute as much monetarily as your co-parent, you can contribute in other ways. Find out what you can do to make your child's life easier throughout the wedding planning process, during and even after the big day (like dog sitting during the honeymoon). In the end, your child will likely remember how their parents behaved during their wedding rather than how much they each paid for it.

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