An important issue for many parents is how payment for children’s extracurricular activities is handled in relation to child support. The Georgia Supreme Court recently addressed this issue in Turner v. Turner. Turner v. Turner, 285 Ga. 866 (2009). In that case, after nine years of marriage and two children, the parties divorced with the mother receiving primary custody of the children and the father obligated to pay child support. In addition to his child support obligation, the father was ordered to pay 2/3 of the children’s extracurricular activities. The father appealed, contending that he was “paying twice for the cost of extracurricular activities because such costs are included in the presumptive amount of child support.” Id. at 867.
The Georgia Supreme Court agreed, stating that “[t]he language of OCGA § 19-6-15 (i) (2) (J) (ii) makes clear that a portion of the basic child support obligation is intended to cover average amounts of special expenses for raising children, including the cost of extracurricular activities.” Id. The Court referred further to the child support statute, clarifying that if the trial court determines that the full amount of special expenses (which includes extracurricular activities) exceeds 7% of the basic child support obligation, the additional amount must be considered a deviation addressed on Schedule E of the Child Support Worksheets with specific findings as to why such deviation is necessary. Id. The Georgia Supreme Court stated that the way the trial court handled extracurricular activities, by including an additional provision in the final judgment and decree of divorce apportioning them, was improper under the current child support guidelines.
The treatment of extracurricular activities is an important concept to keep in mind. In looking at a requested deviation for these activities, the court is going to want and need justification for these activities, especially if the payor is claiming that these activities are unnecessary for the children.