Extracurricular activities are an important part of most kids' childhoods. When their parents are divorcing, having the consistency of games, lessons and other activities can be extremely important to kids. However, too often, co-parents' disagreements over which extracurricular activities are appropriate and/or affordable can threaten these important outlets for their children.
Even happily married parents often disagree over extracurricular activities. One parent may not want their kids participating in sports like football and soccer where they could be seriously injured. Another may not want to spend the money needed to give their child cello lessons. Many extracurricular activities require a big time commitment that many parents don't have -- particularly if they're divorced.
How should co-parents who share custody of their kids resolve conflicts over extracurricular activities? First, as with most child-related decisions, it's crucial to determine whether your position is based on what's best for your child or what you want for them.
Expense can be an important factor. If you want your child to continue their gymnastics training, are you willing to pay for at least a portion of it?
Communication is key. Before the school year begins or as sign-up time nears, it's best if parents can get together and make sure they're on the same page regarding their kids' extracurricular activities. A parent shouldn't sign up a child for classes or a team and then confront their co-parent with a bill for half the cost or a drop-off/pick-up schedule.
If extracurricular activities are a big part of your kids' lives, it may be wise to include them in your parenting plan. For example, you can address issues like:
- How many activities each child will be allowed. It's typically best to allow kids to continue in the activities they're already involved in, but you may want to require mutual agreement on new activities.
- How the expenses will be split, as well as the maximum amount each parent can be required to contribute
- Which parent will be responsible for getting the kids to and from practice, lessons, games and performances.
- How disputes will be resolved if parents can't reach agreement on their own.
Whether you're still drafting your parenting plan or you'd like to add some provisions to it regarding your children's extracurricular activities, your family law attorney can help you.