Extracurriculars and Joint Legal Custody


#1

Generally, the child support amount assumes that each parent will pay extracurriculars for the children while they are in their custody. However, the judge was within their discretion to order each parent to pay a portion of the children’s extracurricular expenses.

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

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#2

If a judge feels it is necessary to deviate from the Guidelines to provide specifically for normal extracurriculars, does the Judge have an obligation to make it reciprocal?

(Parties have equal incomes and share 4 children, Father has 2 additional children)

We are on worksheet B - Shared Custody, the Judge said it was ‘completely unfair’ to move to worksheet B (yes, we have that in writing), even though the law requires it. It took a motion and an inch of documentation to convince the Judge, who overturned herself and scheduled a new hearing.

The Judge awarded a deviation explicitly for extracurriculars, not as 50% of their cost, but as a fixed amount every month.

Doesn’t this cross the line? Shouldn’t a parent with joint legal custody and on worksheet B have some say in the child’s activities? Instead, now he writes a check and by default is forced to consent to whatever the ex-wife cooks up for the kids. I could almost buy into it except there is no reciprocal allowance for the Father to pay extracurricular costs and share those expenses with the Ex.

The boatloads of research have turned up little to determine whether guidelines consider extracurriculars as included or additional. Although if routine extracurriculars are grounds for a deviation, just about everyone should be entitled to a deviation! I have found one reference that the Income Shares model does include those costs, and another reference that says those are entirely discretionary costs and, like college costs, cannot be ordered, but can be enforced if there is an agreement in a previous order.

Thanks for your insight on the issue of parental rights under these circumstances. We feel like the judgement was punitive and designed to get the other party almost exactly what she would have received on worksheet A…

Best regards,
Karen