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Consumer

Brady Bunch families face financial challenges

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McLEAN, Va. (2/23/11)--Blended families are the new normal. Divorce, remarriage, and living outside conventional marriage have changed families and created an expanded network of step relatives. With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce and more than 40% of all Americans having at least one step relative, it’s imperative to talk about money and how you’ll handle it before entering into a new marriage (USAToday.com Feb. 6). To keep your relationship sane and decrease money problems:
* Find common ground--Talk about money before blending families. Decide if you’ll have separate or joint accounts, or both, as well as who’ll be responsible for each child’s expenses. What contributions can you count on from ex-spouses; what financial commitments have you made to ex-spouses? * Discuss money issues with family members--Your children might have to change habits or get used to new rules pertaining to money, but including the kids in discussions about finances early on will lessen future problems. * Plan ahead--If you’re remarried and you and your new spouse each bring children to the new marriage, discuss how you’ll pay for your children’s college education. Will you both chip in for each child or will you be responsible for paying for only your own children? Will your former spouse, and perhaps the child’s grandparents, play a role? * Check insurance policies and wills--Read policies carefully to be certain that all family members are covered the way each parent wishes. It’s just as important to check your wills to make sure the wording includes all children, both natural and adopted. * Consider estate planning--Meet with an attorney and make sure all kids from past marriages are considered. This includes looking at college educations, inheritances, and even custody issues. Determine who will be responsible for your children if you die.
To learn more about creating financial harmony in stepfamilies, read “Financial Candor Makes Second Marriages Sweeter” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.