Both parents are responsible for supporting their children financially following divorce. While child support payments include money for food, clothing, housing, medical care, and, often, payment for college, extracurricular activities are more of a gray area. Child support guidelines include some extracurricular activities. However, there are also extracurricular activities that child support does not cover unless spelled out in the support agreement or order. Every situation is different for divorcing parents when it comes to what activities their children may reasonably be involved (and also depending on the age of the children) and the expense required for those activities. If you are concerned about the costs of extracurricular activities and what you may have to pay or what you may be able to obtain from your ex-spouse to help with those expenses, an experienced New Jersey child support lawyer can provide knowledgeable guidance toward getting a fair resolution.


The New Jersey child support guidelines offer a starting point for making support determinations. The guidelines consider the basics of care a child needs and takes into account parents’ incomes and custody and visitation arrangements. There are many other complexities to determining support amounts, including how many children parents have, whether alimony is a factor in the divorce, and other considerations.  However, the guidelines are capped so if your family is considered a high wage earning family, there is an additional analysis that needs to be done to add to the base line child support obligations calculated by the Guidelines. When it comes to payment obligations for extra-curricular activities, the guidelines include support for the following: “Entertainment – Fees, memberships and admissions to sports, recreational, or social events, lessons or instructions, movie rentals, televisions, mobile devices, sound equipment, pets, hobbies, toys, playground equipment, photographic equipment, film processing, video games, and recreational, exercise or sports equipment.” As you can see, the guidelines in this area are very broad and general and it can be unclear what specific activities may or may not be included in support obligations. What about traveling sports that are extraordinary in costs? Equestrian classes? Cheerleading competitions? To reduce the opportunity for confusion and conflict, parents should clarify in their child support agreements not only which activities are and are not going to be ‘included’ in the base child support obligation, but then discussing an allocation between the parties for paying for those extraordinary specific extracurricular activities ‘outside the guidelines’. If you can come to agreement on support obligations for your child’s activities between yourselves, you can avoid a potential courtroom battle now and well into the future, which is typically better for all parties, especially your children. Your respective attorneys and/or a mediator can help you. When we talk about the parties’ contributing toward those extracurricular activities that are not covered by basic child support, we are talking about possibly negotiating a percentage split that the parties should each contribute toward those expenses, or even dividing up the activities per parent depending on the cost so each knows which activities he/she is responsible to pay for. All of the discussions about how to handle a protocol for extraordinary extracurricular activities depends on the unique financial and other circumstances of the parties—and notably, the rest of the divorce negotiations.


When parties simply cannot agree on who will pay how much or anything for extracurricular activities — and which ones — a judge may consider a variety of factors to make the determinations. Judges are not strictly bound by child support guidelines and can deviate from the guidelines based on the overall circumstances of the case. In deviating from the base guidelines, some of the factors under N.J.S.A 9 § 17-53 the court may consider include:
  • The needs of the child
  • Standard of living and financial circumstances of both parents
  • Income and assets of parents
  • Earning ability of parents
  • Any other factors the judge believes is relevant to the decision.
While you can certainly get a decision about child support payments for extracurricular activities from a judge, you cannot know what determination the court will make and whether it will be agreeable to you. When you and your spouse can agree on how extracurricular activities will be paid for without the court’s intervention, you may well end up with a better child support situation that you can both live with and at least you had a say and some semblance of control into the outcome. Our law firm will advocate for your interests and overall fairness in negotiating your child support agreement. And if your case must go to a judge for resolution, we will advocate strongly on your behalf.


Do you want to know how extracurricular activities will be dealt with in your child support plan and how you can get the most beneficial outcome? A knowledgeable New Jersey child support attorney from our firm can help. There are many complexities to arriving at child support payments that are fair to both parents and that are in the best interests of children. We have extensive experience in this area of the law and will work tirelessly on your behalf. Call [MFR] Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers today at (201) 880-9770 to arrange a confidential case evaluation.

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