At the David W. Martin Law Group, our South Carolina family law attorneys know that just because parents get divorced doesn’t mean they stop interacting, especially when it comes to the well-being of their kids.
While some parents’ relationships are better than others after a divorce, communicating about money is never an easy talking point. This is particularly true when it comes to the children’s need for financial support that goes beyond the standard child support payments.
The reality is, when kids participate in extracurricular activities, their expenses increase. So, who should pay for these additional costs? Are they part of the child support payment? Should both parents chip in? Does the law say what child support should cover, and what it should not?
That, in a word, is complicated. Here is why.
What Expenses Does South Carolina Child Support Cover?
If you are getting divorced in South Carolina, and have minor children, child support will be determined during the separation period and finalized during the divorce proceedings. Whether you and the other parent determine the amount on your own, during mediation, or inside the courtroom, that amount is typically set in stone, barring any extenuating circumstances.
Child support is designed to help the primary parent with expenses involving:
- Educational Expenses
- Health Insurance
While these expenses are part of everyday life, the child support recipient can use the funds for anything they would like. There is no law stating how child support must be used, nor a law that says the paying parent can dictate how those funds are used.
That means if the parent who has primary custody wants to use child support for the kids’ involvement in sports, music or dance lessons, he or she can. If the paying parent believes the amount should cover those expenses, he or she is also entitled to that opinion.
If one parent has primary physical custody of the children and receives child support, he or she will be responsible for their extracurricular activity costs. If both parents have joint physical custody of the children, both may be responsible for those expenses.
In short, child support payments are supposed to cover entertainment and extracurricular activities.
How Can I Get the Other Parent’s Help with Added Child-Related Expenses?
Raising kids requires compromising with the other parent on many levels. Unfortunately, there is nothing that says he or she should have to split the expenses for extracurricular activities, especially if one is already paying child support.
Since there is no legal precedent for “making” one parent help pay for these additional costs, other than petitioning the court for a child support modification, the best approach may be just to ask. We realize that not all parents have an amicable relationship after their divorces, but putting your kids first is best for everyone.
Consider asking the other parent to split extracurricular activity fees by paying for them directly, instead of asking for more money. Or taking the children to buy equipment, instruments, or uniforms when they are together. This will help ensure everyone is being transparent about the costs associated with the activities, so splitting the costs is fair for both parties.