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Starting over with a new family

Options for handling finances in a second marriage

When remarriage creates a stepfamily, it’s extremely likely that money will become an issue in your new life. You both bring financial resources into the relationship and need to determine how best to handle them in your new situation.

Generally the best way to handle family finances is the one you’re most comfortable with – not only from a financial standpoint but also from one of trust, commitment to the relationship and the likelihood you’ll stay together permanently. Here are your options:

1. Keeping your money separate

There are benefits to keeping your money separate:

  • You maintain the ability to make financial choices without having to ask your partner.
  • You can avoid future money disputes if the relationship doesn’t work out.
  • You aren’t financially dependent on your partner.
  • There’s a good chance that sharing expenses is unfair to you. If your income and child support doesn’t equal your partner’s, a larger percentage of your income will go toward paying household expenses.

2. Combining your resources

A joint account only works if you make financial decisions together. If one partner dominates money matters or takes advantage of shared finances, it could lead to resentment. Here are ways to help avoid trouble:

  • Keep a record of monthly expenses.
  • Decide who’s going to pay the bills and which expenses will be paid from your joint account.
  • Decide how much money each of you can withdraw from the joint account without asking permission.

3. A blend of both

Benefits of having joint and separate accounts include:

  • Each of you can contribute to paying household expenses in a way that’s proportional to your income.
  • Each of you can pay for your own children’s expenses individually.
  • You can decide which expenses you’ll pay for together, such as a mortgage, vacations, everyday expenses, or unexpected emergencies.

Before making any decisions, discuss each of the options with your partner and what you’ll do if it’s not working out. And no matter which option you choose, the most important thing is to make sure your entire family’s needs are being met.

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