Different incomes – gifts and holidays for the children

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Dear Sheila

My former husband and I went through a difficult divorce a few years ago. He was very angry and is resentful that I earn more than him. My salary has continued to rise since we divorced and I am in a position that I can use it to treat our children (aged 15 and 12) to the occasional gift and luxury holiday. I’m not going to spoil them, but I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and I would like to be able to share this with my family. However, my former husband does not have the same income I do and thinks that we should have an agreement in place that if he could not afford to buy the children something, I should not buy it for them either. I don’t think this is fair. Why should our children miss out because he can’t move on?


Linda, Chipping Norton

Dear Linda

Thank you for your letter. It seems that your earning capacity has been (and still is) a source of resentment and difficulty for your former husband.  I think it is so much easier for newly separated parents to give joint presents to your children, this does away with competitive buying.  A number of co-parents set up a bank account for children’s extraordinary expenses and they each put the same percentage of their salaries into that account for presents, parties etc. You would both need to work out how much should be spent on the children, say £2,000 per annum and work out if you can reach that figure by paying the same % of each salary into it. Hopefully this helps your former husband to feel that he is contributing to the presents in a fair way.

Holidays are a different matter. It is usual for the parent taking the children away to pay for the holiday. In my experience children have just as much fun camping for a weekend as they do going to a hotel. You just want to stop any notion of holidays being a symbol of how much you each love the children. Your children will definitely not view their holidays with you like that but there is a tendency for some parents to fall into that trap.



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