My Ex & I Can’t Agree on Our Kids’ Extracurriculars. What Are My Options?
Kids and extracurricular activities go hand-in-hand. Whether it’s dance lessons, a sports team, or chess club, kids of all ages express themselves and refine their talents through extracurricular activities.
When you’re separated from your child’s other parent, extracurricular decisions can take on a new level of meaning.
Maybe you and your ex don’t agree that your child should join that club, or the cost seems too high. Perhaps one of you is worried that the scheduling demands will be a burden.
Whatever the reasons, battling it out with your ex over what sports, clubs, and activities your child should pursue can be a source of great stress and frustration.
What if my ex wants to enroll our kids in an activity I don’t agree with?
If your ex wants to enroll your children in an extracurricular activity you don’t agree with, or at a place you don’t agree with, whether or not you have the ability to intervene depends on a few factors.
You and your ex have joint decision-making over activities
If you and your ex have joint decision-making over extracurricular activities, yes, your ex should consult with you and weigh your opinion regarding the number, type, and location of all extracurricular activities.
In the event that you have talked over the details of the extracurricular and still cannot agree, you may need to attend mediation to discuss the extracurricular. A mediator can help you both work toward a compromise and avoid further stress and expense on this issue.
Your ex wants an activity that encroaches on your parenting time
Perhaps your ex wants to sign your child up for soccer, and all the practices are during their time but there are some games that take place during your time.
You are under no obligation to take your child to activities during your parenting time, and your ex cannot force you to take your child. Extracurriculars are not like school or medical appointments; they’re not deemed necessary for your child’s growth and development.
If you have other activities planned during your parenting time, you’re well within your rights to skip your child’s extracurricular. And your ex can do the same.
However, be sure to consider your child’s wishes and best interest when deciding whether to attend an extracurricular or not.
Will your child be disappointed to miss that practice or game? Is the reason you’re skipping in your child’s best interest, such as a fun outing or family event, instead of just out of spite? Will your child’s progress be hurt by missing that game or practice?
Yes, you may disagree with your child being enrolled in that activity, but unless you have solid reasoning against the activity (it’s detrimental to your child’s health or well-being, for example), refusing to take them only hurts your child.
What if we don’t agree on how much to spend on extracurriculars?
Extracurricular activities can be expensive, especially as children get older and equipment gets more costly.
If you and your ex don’t agree on how much to spend on a particular extracurricular activity, but you both agree that it’s a valuable experience for your child, finding a way to compromise may be necessary.
Can your child find other places to pursue this activity that may be more cost-effective? Can one parent pay a larger share of the costs, especially if the other parent is worried about being able to afford the activity? Is individual fundraising available to help cover the extra fees?
Ultimately, if one parent wants the child to participate in an activity but the other cannot or does not want to pay, then it’s up to that parent to shoulder the cost.
While compromise and cooperation are the name of the game and will ultimately serve your child’s best interests, there may be situations where you and your ex just cannot agree.
Unless there is a demonstrable risk to your child from the activity itself, where the activity takes place, or people who are around during that activity, try to make every effort to support – financially and with your time – the activities your child chooses.
No one can force you (or your ex) to pay or attend an event during your parenting time, but putting your differences aside for the good of your child will go a long way.
Child Custody Attorney in Washington, D.C.
When you first separate from your child’s other parent, it can be difficult to predict all the issues that may arise as the years go by. From paying for college to whether your child plays football, many separated parents have disagreements about something that crops up months or even years after the divorce is finalized.
At Lopez Law Firm, we do our best to help you anticipate these potential pitfalls and work through them early, giving you and your child more peace and stability as the years go on. Schedule your consultation today!