You got custody of the kids and the house and he got the bank account. The ex can afford expensive gifts for the kids.  Alimony and child support are great for meeting basic needs, but parenting is about a lot more than basic needs. The primary custodian pays for food, clothing, housing, school supplies, projects and extra-curricular activities.  Children today are left behind if parents aren’t paying for private lessons. Want to be a middle-school or high-school cheerleader? Enrollment in a gymnastics program is a must. Want to play football or basketball? Join a community team by the age of five. Whether it’s piano lessons by the age of four or swimming by the age of six, children whose parents give them an advantage get the starring roles. Do I dare mention the high cost of childcare? Even if the ex pays for health insurance, the custodial parent struggles financially.

Often ex-spouses and courts fail to realize the importance and cost of giving children every possible advantage.  Alimony for the custodial parent is dependent upon him/her securing employment. Although the child support order is based on the income of the noncustodial parent, he/she has more residual income to shower the child with gifts. As people move on with their lives, seek promotions or change jobs their lifestyle and income changes. Expensive gifts can be an attempt to buy a child’s affection or compensation for not being there on birthdays and holidays. Spoiling the children with money or lavish gifts doesn’t improve a parent-child relationship. In fact, it can worsen the relationship as children come to expect expensive gifts as the norm.

If your ex-spouse is using gifts to deal with the difficulties following divorce, communication is essential. Tell your ex how you feel and the message it sends to the children. Let your ex-spouse know competitive gift giving creates suspicion, and increased resentment and distrust make co-parenting difficult for the parents and on the child.

Think of the child. Some children are sensitive and feel an expensive gift may anger the other parent. They may feel used, refuse to take it home or hide it in a closet. Divorce is hard on children. They want guidance, love and support. If you feel your ex-spouse is buying expensive gifts because he/she has more money, your family lawyer can advise on changing the child support order.

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