Thanks for printing! Don't forget to come back to Meriwether & Tharp, LLC for fresh articles!
Although many do not realize it, one often contentious issue regarding child custody involves the child’s extracurricular activities. Questions regarding whether the child will participate in football, ballet, baseball or tap, and what limits if any should be placed on a child’s involvement in extracurricular activities often lead to disagreements between parents. Additionally, scheduling issues and the possibility that an activity sponsored by one parent may infringe on the other parents parenting time may also lead to contention. Although agreement between the parents regarding their child’s extracurricular activities is ideal, it is important for a determination to be made regarding which parent will have final decision making authority regarding this issue in the likely event the parties disagree.
Often, a child’s extracurricular activities are closely related to his or her education and schooling. Thus, the parent awarded final decision making authority concerning education often seeks final decision making authority concerning extracurricular activities as well. Due to the close relationship of these two issues, it is often the case that the parent awarded final decision making authority concerning education is also awarded final decision making authority concerning extracurricular activities as well. This outcome is not guaranteed however, as the issues of legal custody, including final decision making authority, are always subject to the Georgia’s best interests of the child analyses. See O.C.G.A. §19-9-3.
Practice Pointer - Limits on Extracurricular Activties
To aid in disputes regarding final decision making for extracurricular activities, the courts have imposed several interesting ideas that might help you resolve problems in this area. For example, in one case a judge allowed one parent to pick out the fall activities and one to pick out activities for the rest of the year. As another example, a court allowed each parent to pick one activity at a time and placed a limit of no more than 2 activities at a time for that child.
Decisions made by parents awarded final decision making authority regarding their child’s extracurricular activities often include, among others, decisions on whether the child will participate in any extracurricular activities, which activities the child will participate in, how many activates the child will participate in, when the child will be allowed to participate in said activities, and whether any limits will be placed on the activates the child participates in. Although no parent wishes to limit their children, limits on type, number and timing of extracurricular activities is often necessary to due to academic concerns, considerations that must be made to comply with visitation and custody schedules, and the costs associated with certain activities.
In fact, an important issue for many parents is how payment for children’s extracurricular activities is handled. Payment of the expenses associated with extracurricular activities may be taken into account in the child support calculation. See Turner v. Turner, 285 Ga. 866 (2009) and O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15 (i). Alternatively, if the parties so agree, the parties may share the expenses associated with extracurricular activities either equally or otherwise. However, Georgia case law suggests that although the parties may agree to share the expenses associated with their child’s extracurricular activities, a court may not mandate the parent obligated to pay child support to additionally pay a portion of the expenses associated with the extracurricular activity costs, absent that party’s agreement to do so. See Turner, Supra.