When a child lives with both parents, the topic of extracurricular activities rarely causes more than a slight blip on the radar. As long as the parents support the activities, can pay for them and can transport the child, everyone is fine.
However, in a divorce situation, a young person’s extracurriculars can become fodder for anger, resentment and confusion.
That is why child support lawyers often recommend talking about current and future extracurricular activities before the divorce is finalized. After all, extracurriculars can impact child support in NJ in multiple circumstances.
What Is an Extracurricular Activity?
It is important to first define extracurricular activities. Extracurriculars can be athletic, recreational, entertainment, social, religious, cultural and academic.
Usually, they include any kind of activity that is done outside of typical school activities. This can include everything from a week of band camp or softball in the summer to Saturday acting lessons.
Essentially, if the activity falls outside the basic school parameters, and is not work in the case of a 16-year-old getting a job at the local grocery store, it may be deemed to be an extracurricular activity for which the cost should be shared.
Who Pays for Extracurricular Activities?
The cost of extracurricular activities is usually shared by the parties in proportion to their incomes on the Child Support Worksheet used in their particular case. Sometimes the parties will each pay their pay their respective share to the activity provider or one party will pay the fee and the other will reimburse the other for their share within a certain time period and upon proof of the expenses incurred.
What About Unplanned Extracurricular Activities?
But what happens when an extracurricular activity comes up that was not pre-planned? Or it is very pricey and will strap one or both of the parents financially? Depending on how the non-custodial parent feels about the importance of the activity, sparks could fly.
For example, if a child is having trouble reading and requires the help of a paid tutor, the court may tell the non-custodial parent that they must pay their share of the expense.
On the other hand, if the custodial parent enrolls the child in an expensive activity without first discussing it with the other parent and coming to an agreement, he or she may not have to pay a portion of the fee.
In some instances, a custodial parent may load up the children with extracurricular activities that interfere with the non-custodial parent’s weekend or weekday evening parenting time. In those instances, the court will normally side with the non-custodial parent whose time with his or her children has been unfairly whittled away. If this is a potential problem area, some parties agree in advance which activities their children will be enrolled in and any new activity must be discussed and agreed upon in advance.
Circumstances can become even more complicated if the non-custodial parent is going to be caring for a child while the extracurricular activities are occurring, such as during the summer months. Should the non-custodial parent pay more for the extracurriculars in addition to regular child support if they have custody for a specific period?
If this situation is known in advance perhaps the parties can agree on a lower amount of child support to be paid for those months. Somerville child support lawyer Katherine K. Wagner can help her clients work out child support matters when they are not able to come to an agreement with their spouse.
Somerville Child Support Lawyer Katherine K. Wagner Helps Clients Spend Less Time Worrying About Extracurricular Activity Support
Like most aspects of raising children, extracurricular activities need to be taken on a case-by-case basis. If you are having trouble figuring out who should pay for your child’s upcoming extracurriculars, please contact the Somerville child support lawyer Katherine K. Wagner at 908-526-0099 or by filling out our online contact form. We represent clients in Hillsborough Township, Bridgewater Township, Branchburg Township, Somerset County, Hunterdon County and Middlesex County from our Somerville, New Jersey office.