Divorced Parents & A Child’s Extracurricular Activities: Who Pays?
Long gone are the days where children could entertain themselves for hours out in the street with a $2 ball. Today, many children are deeply involved with after-school activities, including sports, music, theater, and dance. Some of these activities can be incredibly expensive. Not only do children need to buy uniforms and practice equipment, but they might travel all over the country to compete against other young athletes or participate in arts festivals. These expenses add up fast. Children truly committed to these hobbies might also want individualized coaching and to attend summer camps.
One question our Media child custody lawyers receive is: Who pays for these activities? And what can you do if your ex won’t chip in?
Check the Child Support Agreement
You might have already allocated the cost of extracurricular activities in a support agreement. In this situation, both sides should abide by the agreement until it is modified. Some agreements are very detailed, allocating certain expenses to each parent or creating a formula for how to divide total expenses.
Of course, you might have separated or divorced when your children were very young, and your separation agreement never contemplated these extracurricular activity expenses. This isn’t an unusual situation to find yourself in. In that case, you need to seek an agreement with your ex or a judicial order.
Mediate the Dispute
Mediation can help sparring parents reach an agreement on contested issues. Mediation is usually cheaper than litigating an issue in court. Some custody agreements even require that parents attempt mediation first, so it is an option to consider.
Get the Court Involved
If parents can’t agree, then the issue might be ripe for a judge’s decision. A judge will look at many factors, such as:
- The cost of the activity. If it is beyond the ability of a parent to pay, then a judge probably won’t force the parent to contribute.
- Your child’s past participation. Is this something your child has enjoyed for a long time? Or are you sending her to tennis camp in for the first time in her life? A judge is more likely to look warmly on a child’s committed hobby than something new and expensive.
- How the activity will interact with the parenting plan. A judge might frown on an activity that interrupts the parenting plan, especially if it will keep the non-custodial parent from seeing their children.
It’s difficult to forecast how a judge will decide this type of dispute. There are few hard-and-fast rules in this area. If the activity is not too expensive and is something your child truly enjoys, then the odds are higher that you will successfully get the judge to agree that the other parent should pay.
A Delaware County Child Support Lawyer Can Help
Please contact Barbara Flum Stein & Associates to review extracurricular expenses. We can analyze your odds of successfully asking a judge for an order in your favor, and we can help with negotiations if you choose to go that route. Call us today or send an online message.