Does child support cover extra-curricular activities?

More often than not, the person paying child support feels like it is too much and the person receiving child support feels like it does not cover enough. As a Divorce Lawyer, I see situations were the kids are not proportionally benefiting from a large child supportĀ  order and situations where the child support obligation clearly does not adequately cover the needs of the children.

The first place to look to see what is covered by the child support payment is the Decree. Your Decree of Divorce trumps the statute. Regardless of what the law in Utah is, your Decree controls. Most Decrees contain a provision on extra-curricular activities. Generally, it requires the parties to each pay half of the extra-curricular activities previously agreed upon. So, if you agree to the extra-curricular activity, you are responsible for half. If you didn’t agree, you are not responsible.

If this is an important issue, I suggest making it very clear in your decree. For example, some parties agree to each contribute a certain amount to a kid’s account. This money is earmarked for activities. This protects both parents. The parent who is enrolling the kids in the activity knows there is money to cover the expense. The parent not enrolling the kids knows his or her contribution each month/year.

I have seen Decrees that require the parties to share the expense, regardless of any prior agreement. This is dangerous. Basically, the paying parent is committing to an unknown future expense. I saw a case with this language in the Decree where one parent enrolled the children in piano lessons with a famous musician. As you can imagine, the cost was thousands of dollars per month. The other parent was stuck paying half of the expense until the Decree was modified.

I have seen decrees where the party enrolling the child pays the entire expense. The problem is that child support alone will barely cover the expense of competitive sports.

There is no statute that specifically requires the parties to share extra-curricular activities. Medical and Dental expenses, on the other hand, are covered by the statute and it is clear these expenses are in addition to child support. If extra-curricular activities are a big concern, make sure to include a provision in your Decree that addresses payment. As always, our Divorce Lawyers in South Jordan are happy to help.