By Regina A. DeMeo: What “Extra” Expenses Do Parents Often Omit in Their Budgets?

Lots of parents mistakenly assume that once their kids are out of diapers and eligible for public school the child-related expenses will decrease substantially, but here are 3 major expenses that many fail to properly budget for, and not just in a divorce scenario:

1. Medical Expenses– Kids routinely get sick and/or injured, but few parents are prepared for the news that their child has a learning disability , mental illness or behavioral issues. Unfortunately, these problems, which are rarely apparent at an early age, often require extensive long-term care that is rarely completely covered by insurance. Families with high deductibles or lacking orthodontia care through their insurance may well be out of pocket over $3000 in just one year.

2. School /Activity Fees– Private school in the DC Area typically runs about $25,000 per child or more. Even those that opt for public school will incur regular fees for field trips, school functions, and extra-curricular activities that can add up to more than $400 a month. Many kids will also need tutoring or take a weekly music class, which can easily cost $50 per session. For kids that want to apply to college, there will probably be a need for an SAT prep class and each application to a college will cost at least $55.

3. Transportation– Those that grow tired of being personal chauffeurs for their children will no doubt encourage their children to apply for a driver’s permit and enroll in driver’s education in high school. Not only are there substantial fees associated with this process, but a huge expense that many fail to factor in is the increased cost of car insurance, which can sometimes double once you add a teenager to the policy.

It is no wonder that the national average for raising a child in the first 18 years is now estimated to be over $150,000. While intact families may well be able to rally together to cover these expenses, those in separate households will have a much more challenging time, especially if they engage in huge legal feuds over these unanticipated expenses.

Hopefully, by anticipating some of these “extra-ordinary” expenses, which are actually quite ordinary, parents can create better financial plans and legal documents that take into account the true potential pre-college costs for each little bundle of joy they bring into this world.


By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.