Paperwork is to manage fear,” she says. Hayden says she tells all of the couples she works with in which one or both partners were married before to talk about what the money issues were in previous marriages, and to be honest with each other about their financial status. “If they are absolutely clear and they are a partnership, they’ll be fine.”
Many stepmothers are shocked at how much money goes out to the other house, but they simply have to accept it. When you marry a man with children, he comes with a set of responsibilities he must meet. But sometimes no matter how prepared you are to accept the terms your husband agreed to with his ex when they signed the divorce papers, things can change.
Sally recalls bitterly that as soon as she and her husband, Abe, married, his ex-wife sued them for more child support. The new stepmother, who had just quit her job to pursue a lifelong dream as a singer, had to return to work to help support her husband’s first family. Fair? No, but it’s a reality. Travis and his ex have joint custody of their children. They split expenses down the middle.
For the most part, the system works pretty well; however, Travis—and by extension, his wife, Stacy—sometimes gets phone calls about large items the ex has bought for the children, and they are expected to pay half the bill. Things that happen in the other household will affect your financial standing, and to weather the surprises, it’s critical that you and your spouse are solid financial partners. As Hayden says, doing your paperwork and learning how to approach your money lives as a partnership will keep you safe.