Does your judgment of divorce contain provisions regarding the terms of extra-curricular activities for the children? Does it define who will pay for the extra-curricular activities? Does it state how many extra-curricular activities the children may participate in at one time? Does it specifically state what activities the children may participate in? If so, your judgment of divorce controls. If not, now what?
HOW DO COURTS DECIDE DISPUTES
Courts look to the best interest of the children when evaluating extra-curricular activity disputes between parents.
The following are some of the top questions of clients regarding extra-curricular activities and the possible rulings judges may make:
Question: Can my ex unilaterally enroll the children in extra-curricular activities?
Possible Ruling: Some judges say that if your ex enrolls your child in an extra-curricular activity without seeking your permission, the activity must be on your ex’s parenting time. The general rule is “Their dime – their time.”
Question: Does your ex expect you to pay for an extra-curricular activity that you did not agree to?
Possible Ruling: Judges may rule that your ex would remain solely responsible for enrollment fees/costs. Once again, the general rule is “Their dime – their time.”
Question: What if you and your ex can’t agree on extra-curricular activities for your child?
Possible Ruling: When you and your ex can’t agree to extra-curricular activities for your child, judges may rule that you each will rotate with enrollment choices. This means that this quarter you get to select the extra-curricular activity and next quarter your ex gets to select. Also, the judge would consider how long the child has been involved in a specific extra-curricular activity. Judges will typically say that if the child has been involved in an activity in the past (or while you were married), they will remain enrolled in that activity.
Question: Does the extra-curricular activity impact your ability to have meaningful parenting time with your children?
Possible Ruling: Judges have also ruled that there will be a limit the number of activities a child can participate in at one time. The premise is that your child shouldn’t be enrolled in so many activities that it negatively impacts you or your ex’s parenting time. The child’s extra-curricular activity should enhance their lives, not keep them constantly on the run.
Question: Who is responsible for transportation to and from the extra-curricular activity?
Possible Ruling: If you and your ex agreed to the activity, you will be responsible for transportation during your parenting time. If there was no agreement, it is likely your ex will be solely responsible for transportation.
Question: What happens if my ex refuses to take our child to the extra-curricular activity?
Possible Ruling: Judges have gone different directions on this issue. Some judges will not require a parent to take the child to the extra-curricular activity during their parenting time, while other judges will require parents to do so.
VALUE IN EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Participation in extra-curricular activities is good for children as it builds self-esteem, teaches them how to be a part of a team, helps them make friends that share in common interests, and teaches them about winning and losing. And if your child excels in a particular extra-curricular activity, it could mean a college scholarship. So, even if you didn’t agree to your child participating in an extra-curricular activity, and it lands on your parenting time, there may be value in allowing them to participate versus fighting with your ex about it.
Disclaimer: Many of the answers to the above questions are judge dependent. The true answer is “It just depends” on your specific judge. The outcome to all extra-curricular activity disputes can be very different based on your judge. If you’re having issues with your ex related to extra-curricular activities for your children, call Schmitt Law, PLLC to see how we can assist.
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At Schmitt Law, PLLC, our clients benefit from years of experience. We treat every client as an individual, taking the time to understand your unique situation, so as to best advise you on the steps you should take. Whatever stage your life is at, you can trust Schmitt Law, PLLC to guide you through the legal process with expertise and compassion, because we understand that family comes first. Contact Schmitt Law, PLLC today by completing our online contact form, or calling us at (616) 608-4634 to schedule a consultation.