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Who Pays for Extracurricular Activities After a Divorce?
All parents know that raising a child is expensive. These costs only increase once the parents are in two separate households. A family cannot live apart as cheaply as they could when they were together. With less money to go around, some expenses, such as extracurricular activities may be difficult to afford.
As children get older, extracurricular activities become more common. Dance, music lessons, sports, band, and other activities start to fill up your child’s calendar. These activities can come with a high price tag. Besides the activity fees, there may be expenses for things like equipment, outfits, and instruments. Who pays for these extras if there is already a child support order in place?
Child support is calculated by using the Florida child support guidelines. This child support calculation includes only the basic necessities of the child, such as housing, basic utilities, and food. It does not cover extracurricular activities.
Who Pays If Extracurriculars Aren’t Included in Child Support?
The issue of who pays for extracurricular activities frequently leads to a fight during the divorce settlement process. Just because it is not required legally, does not mean you should neglect what is best for your children.
Before you got a divorce, your child might have enjoyed participating in various activities. You probably feel that your child should continue these activities to maintain a sense of normalcy in an already difficult situation.
What if your spouse is paying child support but doesn’t want to pay for these additional things? You’re not required to pay, but if you don’t, your child will be the one that suffers.
Parenting Plans Can Help Parents Determine Responsibility for Extracurriculars
It’s common for parents to have a detailed parenting plan. This plan can include details about splitting the costs of extracurricular activities that the children already enjoy. When you draft a parenting plan, figure out how much your children’s after-school activities will cost. Calculate the cost for the year, then break that down to find out the monthly or weekly amount. This can make it easier to determine which expenses each parent will cover.
What if you don’t have a parenting plan? You can take the matter to court. Guidelines that are used to determine support can also be applied in situations like these. Courts handle these matters on a case by case basis. There is no hard and fast rule on which activities are considered and how the costs are to be shared.
However, there’s no guarantee that a judge will order your spouse to pay for your child’s extracurriculars. You never know what you will get from a judge’s decision. It’s always best to try to work out an agreement privately. Failure to negotiate outside of court could lead to a worse outcome than what your ex initially offered.
If your children are young when you and your ex are divorcing, they may not participate in any extracurricular activities. As they get older, you will get a sense of what activities they gravitate toward and what expenses those will bring. If you can’t settle on a financial agreement regarding these new activities, child support can be opened back up with a request to modify support.