Son's 16th Birthday. Should I ask dad to split the cost?

KeeMom4Life asks from Philadelphia, PA
18 answers

My son's 16th birthday is arriving. I made reservations for Dave & Busters. The total cost is $450 for 15 children to eat and includes a $20 game card.

I receive child support of $430mo from Dad. So, would it be inappropriate to ask him to go in half with me?

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So What Happened?

Final update: Dad will split the cost.
What's in it for him? Seeing his child for the 1st time this year, happy amongst friends and family. Again, his father doesn't offer input. That's not what he's about. So, I do things and hope he'll be a part of it. And yes, I can afford this and many more, but since it's his 16th birthday, this is what should happen for him. The biggest bonus: the support and love he'll get from his guests. Thst's the iving on the cake. Thanks for your input.

Natalie, thanks for your insight. Dad already knows. I told him 2 days ago. It's a surprise party too. We are expecting a total of 30 guests.

Okay, without sounding defensive, I *never* implied that I couldn't afford the party. Sometimes, you ladies read more into something that isn't there. I can afford it and actually don't mind paying for it in its totality, but why not ask Dad if he can help with the bill, since it's for *our* son?

Additionally, my son will be 16. He hasn't had a birthday party in probably 8 years. His father has NEVER gone out of his way to do anything extravagant for our son. In fact, most times, he drops the ball. So, although he wasn't *included* in making the plans, please know that he's not the kind of father who really plans anything, let alone get involved in details. In my opinion, the LEAST that Dad can do, is pay half. He wouldn't have had any plans for him otherwise anyway. My main concern was whether or not it was inappropriate or not.

Lastly, he has more than $225 to give. He has a gov't job and an airline job, reaping in over $80,000 yr, pays no rent and has no car-note.

18 Answers



answers from Sparta on

There are so many Mom's in your Shoes. I went through that for many years. My Children are grown now. I can tell you that I had a Judge tell my Ex that telling my child he would not pay for extras because he paid child support was Mental Child abuse. That information is purely the Judge's decision.... You cannot make him pay extra but I would ask him. If he is a good Dad he should help you.


answers from Kirkland on

If you had wanted dad to split the cost then you should have probably asked BEFORE you made the reservations.
How would you feel if your ex had made birthday plans for your kid, without you, and then asked you to cover 1/2? I venture to guess...not very good.
But, I don't know what kind of relationship you have with him. Maybe you both get along great and you can ask...maybe you don't. You know better than all of us in computer-land.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

You should have talked to him about splitting the cost before you made the reservations.

6 moms found this helpful

Suz t.

answers from Sharpsburg on

i guess you could, but maybe the right time to ask that would have been before you planned and made reservations for a ridiculously big and expensive party that you are struggling to afford.

ETA, okay, after reading your SWH, i'm glad you can afford it. my point remains that the time to ask your ex to split the cost was BEFORE planning the expensive party.

maybe i read too much into it, or maybe you didn't bother to include pertinent details.

but the real kicker i find buried in it is that your son hasn't had a birthday party for half his lifetime. that's pretty freakin' brutal.

i guess he DOES need a big wahoo this time around. poor kid.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Brooklyn on

Some responses below are trying to give you reasons why they think that it would be inappropriate to ask Dad to split the cost. That was your question, posts below answered it. In answers ranging from "because this should be in the parenting plan" to "because he did not help to plan it".

Based on your SWH, you do not actually want people to brainstorm reasons why it might be inappropriate - you refer to those answers as (for example) "reading more into something that isn't there" and not understanding that "he's not the kind of father who really plans anything".

So - what is the question that you truly want us to answer? Is there any statement in support of the "yes it would be inappropriate" conclusion that you would accept without being defensive? Or, truthfully, did you just want a bunch of responses telling you to go ahead and ask for the money?

Can you list a few reasons for us why *you* think it might be inappropriate?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Eagle River on

I think the right time to ask would have been before you planned such an expensive affair, while also asking for his impute on planning. If you want to ask if he minds pitching in a little that would be fine (assuming he is coming to the party), but since he had no say in the planning it is not really fair to just demand half after the fact.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dublin on

I think I'm looking at this from a different perspective than most people. I think it would be unfair to your ex if you didn't at least offer to split the cost.

When my stepson was that age, his mother would plan events like this and invite my husband more or less as an after-thought. She may not have openly told my stepson that she was paying for the event entirely by herself, but he knew. And over time he started to develop thinking that his mom was more generous than my husband. And my husband felt compelled to do other things for our stepson. Mom gave him a birthday party, dad took him on a hunting trip. Mom took him on a cruise, dad took him deep sea fishing. Mom took him to a movie, dad took him golfing. It ultimately led to my stepson being overindulged. Not because they were trying to one-up each other, but because they didn't work together to parent him. We would have gladly paid for half of the birthday party.

Of course it might have been better if you had asked him for his input prior to having the party. But you can still ask. Alternatively, you can ask him to contribute in another way, like buying the cake or paying the extra $5- $10 for the kids to have unlimited games. Or maybe he'll buy food for the adults that stay. Just explain to him that your son wanted a D&B birthday party and ask if he wants to share the cost.

6 moms found this helpful

Annette D.

answers from Saint Paul on

Since it's a surprise, I would make the offer to him that if he WANTS to split the cost, you can present the party to your son as being from the BOTH of you. Maybe you can get a card for him from the both of you, and sit down with him, all three of you as you reveal his surprise. If you're planning on just bringing him there to surprise him with the guests already waiting, what about having his dad there too, when you are, to yell surprise, give him a hug with you, and wish him a happy party before you let the teens have their fun. If he doesn't want do that, I think you politely accept that it's his right to say no. He can do his own thing, big or small, or nothing for your son's birthday. Your just giving him an option, as a courtesy.

If you don't like that idea, you can always ask him if he's willing to pay for half. It's not inappropriate to politely ask. But JUST asking him to split the cost for something you already planned may not be well received. If you really wanted to split costs with him, it would have been better to talk about your idea BEFORE you made the committed plans. Then at least he would have had the opportunity for giving input and being more involved.

5 moms found this helpful

michelle s.

answers from Herndon on

I would just say something like, " would you like to go in with me on Jr's. party? We can tell him it's from both of us." He may want to be involved and welcome the offer.

6 moms found this helpful

Wild Woman

answers from Reston on

You can ask dad, the worst he can do is say no.

I read your SWH - you might know about his finances BEFORE you left him - but you don't know them NOW, right? Don't make assumptions on what he can and cannot afford. He's paying you money for child support. You don't know his other expenses or bills. You don't want US making assumptions about things? Maybe you shouldn't either.

Happy birthday to your son.
Don't plan parties you can't afford on your own. The time to talk with him about splitting the bill is BEFORE you plan it. NOT after.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

You can ask ...

What's in it for him? Seriously, if you've already planned everything, he might wonder why you are suddenly asking him. Be careful in how you present it to him. Instead of just asking for half or saying "split the cost," tell him that you thought this might be a nice present "from the two of you." If you present it that way, he might be more likely to agree. Otherwise, it just sounds like you want his money.

7 moms found this helpful

J B.

answers from Boston on

I think it's a reasonable ask. If he can afford to contribute and does so, great! If he can't or puts up a stink, that's fine too.

My divorce agreement actually states that I will plan and pay for birthday parties for the children and that he will be notified and may attend. It was just easier for me to be in control of those than to have to negotiate splitting the costs (and having him veto plans, etc.). A 16th birthday is a special one though so presumably this party is bigger than what you normally do and as such, asking if he can or will split the cost of this special occasion is reasonable and might help set expectations for other future events like a graduation party, etc.

2 moms found this helpful

J C.

answers from Philadelphia on

You can ask but since you didn’t give your ex input on the venue, guest list or cost I think It is perfectly reasonable for him to say no.

If your ex has $225 to give, I would think he rather give that to your son as his birthday gift rather than give you money for a party he had no say in.

4 moms found this helpful

TF Plano/Allen

answers from Plano on

If you can't afford to foot the bill 100% you should not be planning this party.

You don't "have" to go all out for s fun party.

Only plan for what you can afford.

4 moms found this helpful

MilitaryMom 6.

answers from Woodbridge on

Huh, I guess if I felt I couldn't afford a party, I'd not be planning one.

No, I wouldn't ask dad to go in halfsies on something he didn't get to plan or have any say in.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chesapeake on

Gee - for my 16th birthday I had a pizza with candles on it and 2 friends over.
You knew his birthday was coming - didn't you budget for it and put a little something aside every month so you would have the money for what ever you wanted to do?
If Dad agrees with the plans then maybe he'll help pay for it.
If not - then you'll have to pay for it.

3 moms found this helpful

Margie G.

answers from Portland on

I'm not sure if it's a matter of being appropriate or not - this kind of thing is usually covered in the plan isn't it (my friends' plans have this outlined, like Natalie mentions below).

It would depend on what your ex feels is reasonable for a party I suppose, but sounds reasonable. I agree with Natalie on giving as much notice as possible.

5 moms found this helpful

Natalie K.

answers from Miami Beach on

I don't think so. What does your parenting plan stipulate? Mine says that things out of the ordinary, like extracurricular activities, are split between both parents. This would fall in the "unusual" category, therefore, in which it'd be split. I think it seems pretty reasonable to ask him to split this, it's not like you're asking for extra money every month, or for something frivolous like a fancy pair of shoes, this is a special birthday and it only happens once a year, it will be a memorable event for him.

If I were your ex, I would appreciate a heads-up with enough advance notice for me to save up if money is somewhat tight, but I don't see why he'd object, unless, like I said, he is strapped for money. How much notice are you giving him? Not much it seems, if you have already made reservations. Hopefully, if he doesn't agree, you will still be able to afford the party, but in the future, I'd give maybe a month's notice, so he can't claim he didn't have enough time to save up and was blindsided with this expense. Good luck, I hope your ex pays up and your son has a great time!

2 moms found this helpful
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