Child Support or Extracurricular Expense?

Child Support or Extracurricular Expense?

Are your Kid’s Cleats part of Child Support or Extracurricular Expense?

You daughter plays soccer, you pay child support, and the other parent just asked you to pay for half of your daughter’s cleats as “an extracurricular expense.”  You might think to yourself, is my share of the cleats part of child support I already pay?  Or are the cleats an additional extracurricular expense that I share on top of child support?

The child support statute, C.R.S. §14-10-115, does not actually include a specific carveout for “extracurricular expenses.”  Instead, C.R.S. §14-10-115 (8) presumes that “the parent receiving a child support payment shall be presumed to spend his or her total child support obligation directly on the children.”  While the statute separately defines things like “extraordinary medical expenses” and “mandatory school fees,” it does not define “extracurricular expenses.”  So, to find the answer to your question, you must review your Parenting Plan and/or your Final Orders.

Final Orders include the parenting time orders the Court entered at the Final Orders hearing.  A Parenting Plan is a separate agreement you and your spouse entered and filed with the Court.  If your final orders and parenting plan do not include any provisions regarding “extracurricular expenses,” then you probably are not legally responsible to pay for half of the cleats (caveat: there are other facts that could impact your legal liability, such as if you said you would pay for half of the cleats).  On the other hand, if the Final Orders or the Parenting Plan does include a provision sharing “extracurricular expenses,” you might be responsible for paying for half of the cleats.  It really depends how the Order and Plan were drafted.

Do I really have to pay child support and contribute to school fees?

The simple answer is “most likely.”  C.R.S. §14-10-115(3)(c.5) defines shared “mandatory school fees” as “fees charged by a school or school district, including a charter school, for a child attending public primary or secondary school for activities that are directly related to the educational mission of the school, including but not limited to laboratory fees; book or educational material fees; school computer or automation-related fees, whether paid to the school directly or purchased by a parent; testing fees; and supply or material fees paid to the school.” “Mandatory school fees” do not include uniforms, meals, or extracurricular activity fees. Most court orders and parenting plans reference the statute and required mandatory school fees to be shared. However, a Parenting Plan or Final Order can authorize the parents to deviate from C.R.S. §14-10-115(3)(c.5).

Do I have to pay for private school?

Not necessarily.

C.R.S. §14-10-115(11) allows the Court to include the cost of “any expenses for attending any special or private elementary or secondary schools to meet the particular educational needs of the child or public-school mandatory school fees.”  Before the Court can order you to pay for your child to attend private school, the other parent must prove that the private school meets your child’s “particular educational need.”  For example, if your child had a learning disability that the private school is better able to address, or, as in some cases, your child has attended the private school for years before you or your spouse filed for divorce and is now adjusted to the school.

If you have questions regarding how your child’s extracurricular costs, mandatory school fees, or private school tuition may be divided between the parents, the experienced family law attorneys at Travis Law Group, PLLC can help.

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