Does Child Support Cover Your Kid’s Extracurricular Activities?
Raising children is expensive enough considering the cost of food and housing. On top of that, extracurricular activities for children seem to grow as the kids do. Sports fees, music, and dance lessons, band, equipment, travel on the weekend to competitions, horseback riding, scouts, it all adds up.
How does Florida view these activities in light of child support?
Parents have a legal and moral duty to support their children under Florida law, whether they are married, divorced, or single. In no circumstance can a parent waive their obligation to pay child support. However, the extracurricular activities of the growing children are not always seen as a necessity.
Extracurricular activities are not addressed under the Florida child support guidelines like those expenses considered necessities – such as housing, food, and utilities.
The costs of extracurricular activities must be shouldered by one or both divorcing parents. That could be one of the significant issues negotiated between the parents if the child is currently enjoying an expensive activity or will be in the future.
A divorcing couple may find this is just another thing on the agenda to negotiate, but if they make their children’s mental and physical health a priority, funding these activities for the child can re-establish some degree of normalcy in a home life situation that has changed.
Craft a Parenting Plan
In order to detail how life will be post-marriage, a parenting plan should include who will cover the cost of extracurricular activities. The family law court requires each parent to file their income and expenses.
In addition to that, the parents should establish the cost for the children’s activities and calculate them for one year. Determine how that cost will be shared. There may have to be some adjustments made all around, including the child’s expectations.
Additionally, both parents will have to decide who will accompany the child if the activity takes them out of town or on a camping trip, for example.
The court can order the other parent to cover some of the costs as they have the option to deviate from the guidelines, but the other parent will have to prove why that is appropriate. Generally, it will take a special circumstance for the court to get involved.
It is far better for the parents to determine which activities the children will be involved in and how they will be paid for, rather than leave that up to a judge. Failure to develop a parenting plan can lead to an outcome you did not anticipate, such as having the cost unfairly divided or the activity eliminated entirely.
If you cannot decide who should pay, or the child requires additional support as they grow into an activity they love, the courts can later revisit a request to modify child support.
Your Child Support Lawyer in Pensacola
Crystal Collins Spencer has spent 34 years helping both petitioners and respondents navigate the difficulties of divorce. During that time, she has guided countless spouses through the difficult marriage dissolution process.
Especially when children are involved, Ms. Spencer will be your advocate for filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and crafting a parenting plan.
Alimony, child support and custody, and property division can become complicated, especially with many assets. You can be assured Ms. Spencer will pay careful attention to the details of your Florida divorce.
Whether you live in the Panhandle of Florida, including Fort Walton Beach, and Sandestin, call our Pensacola office to for a confidential review of your divorce case at (850) 795-4910.