Is COVID-19 Making It More Expensive to Raise a Family?

How COVID-19 Is Affecting the Cost of Raising a Child and the Need For a Family Lawyer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 60% of parents report that they do not have any outside help for child care. This and other pandemic-related problems are leading to all sorts of financial challenges. Understanding how the pandemic is affecting family expenses can help parents find ways of solving the problem.

Child Care Costs Are the Biggest Expense

The main way that the pandemic is affecting family budgets is by increasing the need for child care. Child care expenses are particularly tough for parents to handle because they are non-negotiable. There is no way of skipping these costs or cutting back without putting one’s children or career at risk. Before COVID-19, many parents relied on schools and traditional daycare for child care. Because of safety needs, most of these are closing or cutting back on class size. Now, parents only have a few alternatives for COVID child care.

Those who are lucky to have a strong support system or an understanding employer may be able to care for their children for free, but many parents are not that fortunate. Instead, they have to rely on expensive, boutique daycares, in-home nannies, or part-time babysitters to manage their child care. Some need to hire teachers or tutors to help their child manage virtual schooling. The daycares that are opening require more staff to help with sanitization procedures, resulting in higher tuition fees. These child care costs quickly add up. Parents who need to work outside the home are left paying hundreds or thousands of dollars each month to ensure that their children are safe.

Right now, many parents are paying roughly 30% of their income each month for child care. A particularly concerning fact is that these costs are not likely to decrease once the pandemic ends. Many child care programs are small businesses that have been greatly impacted by COVID. There are many that are already closing their doors for good. This is leading to a shortage in child care that may cause higher costs even once COVID is over.

Health Care Costs Are Also a Concern

Millions of people are currently laid off, and for those without a job, health care is another major expense. Most parents do not want to risk their family being uninsured since the virus is so widespread. However, paying for health insurance without the assistance of an employer can be hard. Even those using government assistance for their health care may still end up paying hundreds to keep their family safe each month. If your divorce attorney did not negotiate an agreement that specifically addressed health insurance, deciding who pays for health care can lead to issues among family members.

Statistically, children are not likely to end up needing emergency medical care because of COVID-19. However, the pandemic is still causing higher health care costs that may  greatly impact families’ household budgets. Many parents still may need medical attention, and this eats away at a family’s savings. After a bout of COVID, parents may find themselves in debt or without emergency funds, and this makes it far harder to manage all the expenses of raising a child.

More Time at Home Means More Utility and Grocery Costs

family lawyerOne of the hidden costs associated with staying at home all the time is an increase in living expenses. Parents can no longer rely on schools to give their children healthy lunches, so they need to spend more money on food. For busy parents who do not have the time to cook, the only option might be premade meals that can be particularly costly. Some regions are still providing free lunches for schoolchildren, but in some cases, due to the problems it presents with complying with state mandates, schools are not serving lunch.

Another surprise expense for parents is higher utilities. For families that need remote, internet-based meeting services to attend school and work, it may be necessary to upgrade internet services. More time spent at home using electronics also leads to higher electric bills. As the months get colder, families are also having to pay more to heat their homes. Even simple things like more toilet flushes during the day can cause a higher-than-usual water bill. All of this can lead to quite a few extra expenses that parents had no idea that they needed to budget for.

More Families Need Additional Electronics

Twenty-one percent of parents surveyed reported that the cost of new technology was one of their most concerning expenses. The pandemic is changing the way we do things, and electronic devices are no longer a luxury. Instead, tablets, computers, and smartphones are now a necessity for families who want their children to succeed at virtuallearning. Unfortunately, libraries and other places that offer free internet access are closed or have limited hours right now.

Though new technology is not an ongoing cost, it is a significant up-front expense. Depending on the child’s needs, the parents may need to spend several hundred dollars purchasing equipment for school. Things get especially expensive in households with multiple school-aged children. If virtuallearning classes are held at the same time, siblings cannot just share equipment Some schools are starting to work on lending electronics to students, but these programs cannot be relied upon.

What to Do About Higher Expenses

If the higher costs of raising a child are making you struggle, you have a few options. Some families may be able to apply for various government benefits and grants that help cover family expenses. These are usually only available for those who fall into certain income brackets, though, and plenty of middle-class families are also struggling right now. If you are no longer living with the other parent of your child, you might want to talk to them about temporarily providing more financial assistance. In cases where relationships are still acrimonious, you may want have a family law attorney  mediate the conversation so that you can focus on the best interests of your child.

For divorced parents, it may be a good idea to work with your family lawyer on modifying child support. Your family lawyer can help renegotiate the child support that you and your divorce attorney initially agreed upon. By petitioning the court, it may be possible to request an increase in  child support. Keep in mind that you will need an experienced family lawyer on your side because judges usually only agree to change child support when you can show that your circumstances are permanently altered. You will need to demonstrate that COVID-19 has changed your children’s needs enough that higher support payments are justified for quite a while.

Lawrence Law is here to help parents who need more financial support during COVID-19. Each family lawyer on our team may be able to help you negotiate fair  child support and get the funds your family needs. We have experience with alimony, child support, divorce mediation, and more. Our team provides compassionate yet aggressive representation for those dealing with the challenges of divorce or separation. During the pandemic, our Watchung and Red Bank, NJ, offices are working remotely. Schedule your remote consultation today with Jeralyn Lawrence by calling (908) 645-1000 or emailing info@lawlawfirm.com.



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