People who are divorcing negotiate child support based on the child’s basic needs: Food, shelter and clothes. To help determine the amount of the child support order, Virginia courts use the child support guidelines approved by the state’s General Assembly. The guidelines take into consideration the needs of the child as well as each parent’s income.
But we live in an age where piano lessons start in preschool, soccer kicks off in kindergarten and little league goes to bat in first grade or earlier. High School brings with it a lot of expenses for sports, school dances and club fees. Having kids is expensive, and paying for it all on your own can be tough as the custodial parent. Child support does not usually cover extracurricular expenses, including:
- School photos and yearbooks
- Registration, uniforms, equipment and sports registration fees
- Select sports, traveling teams and club teams
- Private music, voice, dance, tennis or golf lessons
- Musical instruments rental and purchase fees
- Recital fees and dance costumes
- Enrichment camps, academic camps and church camps
- Academic tutoring
- College funds
- A child’s first car and insurance
Generally, Virginia’s standard child support formula will not be affected by either parent’s wish for the costs of extracurricular activities and other expenses to be covered or shared. Parents are allowed to negotiate their own divorce settlement and custody agreement and include a provision that stipulates shared payments for children’s activities throughout their lives. However, both parents would need to agree to it in a settlement instead of rely on the courts to order it in the form of child support.
If, in the course of the divorce and negotiation process, the divorced parents do not agree on their own to split expenses, then generally the parent who wants the child to participate in the activity would be the one to pay for it. This means if the child lives with a parent who signs him or her up for a sport or lessons or other activity, that parent would foot the bill. The parent, of course, can ask the other to pay, but wouldn’t be able to legally compel him or her to do so. To avoid headaches later, include coverage of extracurricular activities costs in your divorce settlement so you don’t have a constant battle every time something at school comes up that needs paid for.
The experienced family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters and are here to help you.