Sometimes, divorced parents find themselves with sole custody of their children and little, if any, financial support from their co-parent. While noncustodial parents have an obligation to help support their children, sometimes they simply don’t have the resources to provide much help. In some cases, they may be incarcerated and unable to help at all.
Whatever the situation, if you’re now a financially strapped single parent, there are things you can do to keep your family afloat as you adjust to your new family dynamic. This often requires some thinking outside-the-box, creativity and not being afraid to ask for help.
Finding ways to slash your budget is key. That probably means downsizing to a smaller home, finding ways to save on your grocery bills and cutting out some activities that cost money.
You may need to earn some extra income as well. There are plenty of ways to earn money at home these days, so an extra part-time job doesn’t have to take you away from your kids. If you’re still in the family home for the time being, taking in a roommate can help you with your housing expenses. Of course, you’ll need to be cautious when choosing someone to share your home.
Look for support from other single parents. Child care costs can eat up a big chunk of your paycheck. Look for child care co-ops in your area where parents take turns caring for children. Have people you can turn to for help caring for your kids if they get sick or have a day off school so that you don’t have to miss work.
Ask family and friends for help. For example, for birthdays, ask them for tickets or annual passes to local amusement parks, zoos and other activities you’ve had to cut out of your budget rather than yet more toys your kids will soon tire of.
Don’t be afraid to seek out government benefits. They’re there to help people who are going through a tough time. Even President Obama’s mother, a highly educated woman, reportedly was helped by what were then known as food stamps as she struggled to raise her young son as a single mother.
If you have a co-parent who’s able to pay child support but isn’t meeting their obligations, there are legal remedies for getting you the money you need to raise your child. A family law attorney can help.