Issues Related to Extracurricular Activities when Dealing with Child Support
- Author Glenn Doyle
- Published December 23, 2019
- Word count 734
Extracurricular activities are important in the development of well rounded children. However the logistics of extracurriculars can quickly become complicated by a divorce. Parents who are divorced or preparing for divorce should consider some of the following points.
Can both parents agree on which activities are appropriate for their child to participate in? If one parent does not approve of an activity, it can lead to some serious tension and conflict.
How many activities does each parent consider too few or too many? Each parent may have a different parenting style. Burdening a child with too many extracurriculars can burden them with stress or distract the child from their studies.
Are both parents willing to contribute financially for the expenses related to materials, registration, transportation and other associated costs?
How much is each party willing to contribute? Each parent should only expect the other to make contributions that are manageable with consideration for their financial situation.
Are both parents willing to contribute the time necessary to transport their child to and from extracurricular activities? Are they willing to make arrangements to travel if necessary?
The costs of extracurricular activities, both in terms of time and money can vary greatly. Rec league sports may be more manageable than travel leagues which require regular trips out of town and may require out-of-pocket payment for lodging and expenses. Sports and other activities such as music may require purchasing expensive equipment and instruments. It is important that parents are open to communicating about these decisions. Don’t be afraid to confront topics such as whether it is better to buy the most cost effective option or the best of the best.
Considerations of Custody
One important point to consider is whether any extracurricular activity may get in the way of either parent’s custodial time with their children.
Consider the following scenario:
The son decides he wants to join a local baseball league, and he asks his mother if he can participate. The father is not consulted and only sees his children every other weekend. After signing up for the team, the mother finds out practices will be Friday evenings with games on Saturdays and Sundays. This will consume a significant portion of the father’s precious time with his son.
In these cases, be sure to consider the following questions:
Will the other parent agree with signing their child up for this activity?
Will they be willing to pay their share of the expenses?
Will they be willing to provide transportation and attend?
Agreements and Consent Orders
Entering into a consent order or any other type of agreement, be sure to discuss every detail. Don’t be afraid to dive into these kinds of specifics. If you have a hearing, be sure to discuss the activities your child is participating in, the costs and the level of involvement, and have the judge address each of these details.
Make it clear how activities are chosen between the two parents, and ensure there are mechanisms in place to deal with disagreements when they inevitably arise.
Consider each of the following specifically when discussing costs associated with extracurricular activities:
Will costs be split universally, or will differences in income between both parents be considered?
Do split costs include all expenses or just enrollment and admission?
Will travel expenses be shared?
Ensure that enrollment in extracurricular activities is not monopolized by one parent or the other. You can do this by adding terms to the agreement that place a limit on the number of activities each parent can enroll the kids in every school year. You can also place a cap based on the costs associated, whereby each parent agrees to pay a set amount per year for activities, and the cost burden for anything exceeding this falls on the parent who enrolled the child.
Consider custodial arrangements when scheduling extracurriculars. It is important that one parent does not detract from the other’s scheduled time with their children as in the example discussed earlier. It is also important that each party considers the children’s best interests and not just the existing custodial schedule.
Include verbiage in your agreement that prepares for unexpected events. Extracurricular activities often come with unexpected obligations, and it is important that both parties agree to put in the necessary effort to allow their child to participate, even in cases when it disrupts the custodial schedule.
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