When you are divorcing and there are kids involved, you will have to fill out a parenting plan. That plan will include both the major decisions of shared custody and visitation—such as, obviously, where the kids are each night—but also the minor ones, which sometimes are overlooked.
One aspect of a parenting plan that is often overlooked are the kids’ extracurricular activities.
With the major issues that you face in a divorce, the kids’ football games, dance recitals, art classes, or other after school activities may seem trivial. However, once your divorce is finalized, and you settle into your post-divorce life, you will find that extra curricular activities can be a source of conflict between parents.
Paying for Activities
The first area of conflict that arises when it comes to extracurriculars has to do with cost—which parent pays for the kids’ extra curricular activities? It is true that many extra curricular activities are relatively inexpensive, but others can be very expensive. Who pays for extra curriculars is something that absolutely must be addressed before your divorce is finalized.
Interruption of a Parent’s Time
The issue surrounding extra curricular activities is how those activities affect with or interrupt, each parents’ custody times. If a child has a football game while the child is with mom or dad, that parent may be hesitant to take the child to the game, as the game “interferes” with the parent’s time with the child (or with the parent’s own personal schedule).
As a general rule, if the parents agree that the kids go to, or take part in extra curricular activities—as almost every child will do eventually—the court will not only require that whichever parent has the child take the child to those activities, but the parent does not have the ability to “make up” the time. In other words, a parent cannot say “I took John to his Boy Scouts meeting during my visitation, so I want an extra two hours of visitation to make up for that time.”
There is an often unthought of positive to extracurriculars: They are an opportunity for you to see your child during times when you do not have custody or visitation. In other words, if your child’s football game takes place when he is with mom, you will have an equal right to attend your child’s game. So, even though you may “lose” time with your child when he has extra curricular activities during your custody time, you may also gain time with your child, attending the public activities he or she is doing when with mom.
Obviously, the best approach for both parents, is to recognize that extracurriculars are for the kids, they enjoy doing those activities, and they are good for the kids’ development. Those benefits take priority over a few hours of custody.
Plan ahead for the child custody and visitation in your divorce. Contact The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help and guidance in your family law case if you are getting divorced with minor children of the marriage.