Child Custody And Extra Curricular Activities: What Co-Parents Need To Know
Extra-curricular activities are a great way for children to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. They are even more beneficial when their parents are going through a divorce, as activities can serve as a distraction for what is going on at home. However, it is crucial that both parents stay involved with those activities so that they do not become a source of contention. The following are some things to think about when dealing with divorce and extra-curricular activities:
Do Not Let It Become a Battle
The last thing children of divorce need to see and hear are their parents battling it out over their extra-curricular activities. You both need to be communicative during all facets of the activities, from choosing which ones the children will participate in to who is going to pay for them.
Do not overstep your boundaries as a co-parent and make decisions without consulting the other parent, particularly if you expect that parent to chip in for dues and equipment. That will surely cause a disagreement. Instead, discuss it well in advance of registration time so that you can both offer your input and how it will be handled. For example, if practices or games occur during one parent's custodial time, is that parent going to solely be responsible for getting the child there? Or will the other parent help? These are all important things to discuss before you even ask the child if he or she wants to participate.
If Both Parents Do Not Agree
What happens if the parents cannot agree on extra-curricular activities? When both parents cannot work together on the kids' activities, you need to turn to your custody agreement and go by what it dictates. While it is not ideal, that document is there for instances just like this. Is there anything in the agreement regarding extra-curricular activities? If so, you will need to do what it states with regard to who is responsible for what in this situation. If there is currently nothing in your agreement about activities, this would be a great time to go back and amend the order to include how you both intend to work it out.
Ultimately, if you cannot agree and feel the need to go back to court over this decision, you can expect that with all likelihood the judge will nix the extra-curriculars, especially if it interferes with the custodial time of the parent that is not willing to allow the child to take part. While that may not be the ideal solution, a judge will almost always advocate for time with the parents over extra-curricular activities. Contact a child custody lawyer for help.
The best thing you can do as parents is to discuss this without involving the children at all. If you cannot agree whether or not to put your child in soccer, do not even approach the child with the idea. That puts the child in the middle, and that should never be the case.