New Strategies for Blended Family Finances

By Joseph Warren Kniskern
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Ian Murray

Managing finances in a blended family is complicated because of the interconnected relationships. Some of the traditionally accepted advice may not work, and new strategies are often necessary.

Tim and Lisa joyfully entered into remarriage, with Lisa’s twin preschool daughters rounding out
their new family. Lisa had sole custody of the girls. Tim and Lisa prepared a budget and were
grateful that Lisa’s ex-husband, Al, paid child support each month.

But Al became resentful.
He reasoned: Tim earns more than I do and lives in a better home. Why should I pay each month to put
food on his table?
So he stopped paying court-ordered support. Lisa didn’t want any problems with Al
and worried he might contest her custodial status if she enforced his obligation, so she said and
did nothing about the missed payments. Tim eventually discovered the missing income. He was upset
that Lisa kept this matter from him, and he begrudged Al’s perceived irresponsibility.

A new approach

Managing finances in a blended family is complicated because of the interconnected relationships and
finances among various households. Some of the traditionally accepted advice for family finances may
not work, and new strategies are often necessary.

Many Christian financial advisers will tell
you to put family money into one pot and share. In first marriages, this may work well. But blended
families are different — especially if either spouse is supporting two households. So it can be OK
to set up “yours,” “mine” and “ours” banking accounts.

Discuss each spouse’s share of
routine income to be deposited into the joint account and which expenses will be paid from that
account. Spouses naturally will have different legacies from former marriages, such as support
funds, life insurance proceeds, inheritances, and so on. Consider allocating these “former things”
into separate “yours” and “mine” accounts.

An agreement that benefits all

Honor financial obligations with ex-spouses.
Don’t let your past adversely affect your family’s present and future. If one spouse has debts to
pay from a former marriage, it’s less upsetting to pay these obligations from his or her separate
account than burdening the entire family. Even so, use a team approach in managing money coming in
from different purses and going out to different households. Manage all family finances in the
sunshine — have no secrets.

What about Tim, Lisa and Al’s dilemma? Tim and Lisa ultimately
agreed that each support dollar from Al would go into a separate account used only for the twins’
education. Al’s contribution reduced how much money Tim and Lisa needed to set aside for this
purpose, which allowed them to shift funds to other blended-family expenses. Al was pleased that
nothing coming from his pocket would benefit anyone but his kids, and someday the twins would
appreciate that their father provided directly for them.

Joseph Warren Kniskern is an attorney and the author of
When the Vow Breaks: A survival and recovery guide for Christians facing divorce.

Estate Planning for Remarried Couples

Like most financial issues, estate planning is more
complicated in blended families than it is in traditional ones. Some balancing of interests will be
necessary as you seek to provide for children from your current and former marriage.

  • Plan ahead
    for passing along your assets. Make sure your retirement plans are updated and structured the way
    you need them to work, tailored specifically to your situation.
  • Don’t let this vital planning take
    you by surprise. Map out how your financial resources will be allocated to each loved one, using
    living trusts (to avoid probate) and life insurance to address specific needs.


If you or someone you know needs marital help, Focus on the Family has resources and counseling to assist. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459) or [email protected].

© 2017 by Joseph Warren Kniskern. Used by permission.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Joseph Warren Kniskern

Joseph Warren Kniskern is an attorney and the author of When the Vow Breaks: A survival and recovery guide for Christians facing divorce.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.