Most parents will agree that raising a well-rounded child takes more than providing food and shelter. Camps, clubs, sports, lessons, tutoring, and more are often part of a child’s upbringing. During a marriage, the family budget and the child’s interests and needs dictate activities in which they participate.
After a divorce, extracurricular activities are not automatically factored into court-ordered child support.
Elements of Texas Child Support
Texas Family Code provides the guidelines of how child support is calculated. Child support covers the needs of the child generally through the age of 18 or until they graduate from high school, whichever occurs later.
Child support covers reasonable costs of the child’s following needs:
Income of the noncustodial parent, the number of children, and their demonstrated needs are used by the courts to determine how much child support is to be paid to the custodial parent. Extracurricular activities are only factored into support when the custodial parent can demonstrate that the programs are a true need for the child’s well-being. Music lessons, sports programs, and other activities that help develop the child mentally, emotionally, or socially may be successfully argued to be included in child custody calculations in certain circumstances.
Other “extras” such as a prom dress, a car, private sports coaching, and travel team expenses are generally not seen as a need and will have to be addressed by the parents.
Additional unnecessary expenses in the eyes of the court might include the following:
- Private School Tuition
- Plastic Surgery
- Designer Clothes
Effective Co-Parenting Plan
One of our attorneys can help you prepare for your child’s current and future needs in a comprehensive parenting plan.
The parenting plan can include how any of the following is to be handled/decided:
- Visitation Time and Lengths
- Vacations with each Parent
- Medical Deductibles and Co-Pays
- Religious Attendance
- Discipline Philosophy
- Art Lessons
- Summer Camps
- Other Extracurricular Activities
It is important to remember that what is beneficial to a child now can change over time. A plan that is both current and future-focused can be the roadmap for parents on how decisions are made and how any related costs are covered.
The custodial parent has the discretion to determine how they spend the money from support. Texas does not monitor how a parent allocates child support. A portion of those funds can be used to pay for activities if the child’s needs are still being met.
Most judges won’t force one parent to pay for an expensive sport or hobby simply because another parent wants their child to participate. In these cases, the parent advocating for a certain activity will ultimately be responsible for paying for it. If the one parent can’t shoulder that burden, the child may have to forfeit the activity. As children get older, they can have a more active role in deciding what is most important to them based on financial and other limitations.
Modifying a Child Support Order
If your original custody order or parenting plan does not consider the present needs of your child, you should talk to your attorney about modifying the current agreement. Courts don’t change support orders unless there has been a significant change in circumstances. Substantial changes to their educational or medical needs may be grounds. In addition to going before a judge, mediating a new plan is also an option.
Attorneys Putting Family First
If you are considering divorce, we can help walk you through everything that should be considered in your divorce agreement, from child custody and support to property division and spousal support. If you have a divorce agreement that is no longer working for the family, we can evaluate whether a modification might be possible.
Schedule a consultation with The Springer Law Firm today using our online form or by calling (281) 990-6025.