If you are divorced or in the process of getting a divorce and you have children, you may have heard the term “mutually agreed upon extracurricular activity.” That could be a little confusing if you have never heard of this concept before. However, it is literally what it sounds like-an extracurricular activity for your child that both parents have jointly agreed upon and consented to. In many cases, parents have joint legal custody, which means that they need to consult with each other prior to making any major decisions for the children. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to medical, educational, religious and/or the general well-being of the children. Extra-curricular activities also tend to fall into this category. Therefore, the parents are supposed to discuss extracurricular activities with the other parent before signing up the child.
While this may sound like an easy and basic concept, it is not always. One example is when a parent wants to enroll a child in an activity that only falls during her parenting time. Logically, she thinks it doesn’t matter because the other parent would not be affected. However, that is not always true. For example, the other parent may need to take the child to or from practice if the parent has a conflict during her parenting time. Alternatively, the parent who signed up the child may expect the other parent to contribute financially. This is usually where an issue arises because then the other parent has the opportunity to say that he did not agree to said activity and therefore, it was not “mutually agreed upon.”
That example is exactly why most divorce and/or custody agreements say that parents should divide the cost of “mutually agreed upon extracurricular activities” because then it affords both parents the opportunity to a) voice concerns, but b) not be financially obligated to something that he or she does not agree with, nor can afford. That said, if one parents wants to sign up the child for an activity and the other parent does not agree, technically, the child can still do the activity. However, only the parent who consented to the activity would likely be required to pay for such. The exception is usually when a child has consistently done an activity (for example, soccer for the last six years) and then one parent unilaterally tries to stop the activity. In that case, most courts would say that it was previously agreed upon and that the child should be able to continue to participate with financial assistance from both parents.
If you are struggling with reaching an agreement on extracurricular activities, or other parenting matters, you should consider consulting an attorney, either for representation or divorce coaching/out-of-court-advisement so that you can consider the best options to proceed forward. We’re here to make your divorce and custody matters easier, not hard. Ever Argue with a Woman? Call 203.745.3151 or email us at email@example.com to learn more.