Who Bears the "Extra" Costs with Extracurriculars?
Most kids participate in some kind of organized activity outside the school day and there are a wide range of costs and commitment levels required of parents whose children want to be involved.
Pursuant to the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, extracurricular expenses are not part of the regular weekly child support payment. They are expenses which are optional in nature since these activities are not part of life’s required costs such as food and clothing. That means that in addition to meeting the basic financial needs of a child, parents are faced with the expenses of things like sports, marching band, summer camps, or ballet. These expenses are not necessarily the sole obligation of the custodial parent.
The Guidelines specify that when parents agree to a child’s participation in a particular activity, they should pay a portion of the expenses. That portion is based upon income percentages, meaning if the gross income of mother and the gross income of father were placed together in a pot, what percentage of the total pot did each contribute? That percentage represents the portion of agreed extracurricular expenses which a parent should pay.
When parents cannot agree about an activity, the Guidelines suggest that a court review each parent’s ability to pay, which parent is encouraging the activity, whether the child has historically participated in the activity and the reasons that a parent encourages or opposes participation. That means that the court could decide to require the parent desiring the child to participate in the activity to foot the entire bill or could divide it between the parents in some fashion.
Discussing activities and what is important to enhance your child's education is important and should be included in any final divorce settlement agreement or paternity parenting agreement, as well as detailing the costs that need to be shared. Travel baseball is a great opportunity, but it also comes with additional costs such as uniforms, tournament fees, cleats, and new bats and other gear. Agreeing now that certain activities are important to your children, what costs are necessary to participate in those activities, and having those expectations and agreements in writing will lessen future disagreements and allow everyone to sit in the bleachers and enjoy a fun day at the ballpark!