Being parents means making big financial decisions. Raising a child isn’t cheap and it gets more expensive every day. Any kind of parent, single, co-parent, married, gay or straight, needs to plan for the financial burden of a child. Same-sex parents have a particular challenge when it comes to the finances and legality of raising a child together. Even if you are married, your marriage may or may not be valid depending on what state you live in. If you are in a same-sex relationship and you are having a child, you need to talk about these big financial issues and get on the same page.

Raising a child isn’t cheap

1. Talk about your current financial positions.

Before having a child together, talk about your finances. Too many couples make the mistake of not talking about money. Being open and making decisions together is the best way to avoid money fights and to be financially prepared for the future. Know where you are now with money and discuss steps you want to take to earn, save, and spend.

2. How to ensure legal and financial protection for your children.

For legal protection, consider both adopting each of your children. If you are both legal parents your marital status becomes irrelevant. For financial protection, talk about life insurance, college savings, and drawing up living wills for both of you.

3. Same-sex parents getting married.

Marriage for same-sex couples is not legal in all states, so if you are getting married, think about where you will do it and where you will be living. Also consider if it makes financial sense to get married. In terms of taxes there is a so-called “marriage penalty,” and as two single people you have more flexibility in how you report income.

4. Know your retirement options.

A lot of laws are unclear when it comes to same-sex parents, especially for unmarried couples or those living in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage. You may not qualify for survivor benefits or as beneficiaries for each other’s retirement plans. Know your state’s laws and talk to an expert on the subject if you’re not sure what you qualify for. It will help you plan for your retirement.

5. Plan for a split.

As we all know from the dour statistics, half of marriages fail. Be realistic and plan ahead for what you will do, with your finances, but especially with your children, if you split up in the future. Thinking about it now can spare you the devastating battles of divorce or separation. Planning will make it easier on the kids too.
Financial issues aren’t fun or exciting, but they are essential and can be the difference between a secure and happy life together and one that is fraught with money arguments and financial uncertainties. Talk about these issues with your partner now, and start making a plan.