Often in divorce, parents wonder whether their children will be able to continue participating in extracurricular activities they had been involved in during the marriage. The answer is a maybe.
In New York, and many other states, child support statutes define what expenses children incur must be paid by parents during and after divorce, typically in the form of child support payments.
New York has a bifurcated system of child support where a numerical formula, prescribed by statute, is used to determine the amount of “basic” child support to be paid by one parent to the other. The purpose of basic child support is to cover the needs of the child for food, clothing, and shelter.
In addition to basic child support, New York has three statutory “add-ons,” which require parents to pay for the health care, education, and “childcare” needs of their children. (“Childcare” is money required by a parent to pay for the care of children while they are working, looking for work, or enrolled in a course of study required to enter a field of work.)
Other than these categories (food, clothing, shelter, health, education, and childcare) New York does not require a parent to pay for any other expenses of their children, such as music lessons, participation in sports, or any number of other extracurricular activities. However, caselaw has addressed this issue.
A parent trying to compel another parent to foot the bill for an activity not covered under the child support statute must prove that two predicate facts exist: (1) the parent who will be paying for the activity has the ability to afford it; and (2) the activity would be beneficial to (“in the best interests of”) the child. If these elements are met, courts have the authority to order the payment of extracurricular activities not enumerated in the statute.
If you’d like more information about whether your children will be able to participate in extracurricular activities during and after your divorce, and who will be responsible for paying for those activities, let's talk. I'm Dan Stock, and you can call me at 475-232-4105 or email me at email@example.com to schedule a consultation.