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Resolving Disputes About Your Child’s Extracurricular Activities

Resolving Disputes About Your Child’s Extracurricular Activities

There are many expenses that go into raising a child, from providing food and clothing to caring for them as they develop, but there can be uncertainty regarding which parent is responsible for financing extracurricular activities if parents divorce.

Who Is Responsible for Children’s Extracurricular Activities?

Prior to 2016, whichever parent had custody of a child would be responsible for the child’s involvement in extracurricular activities. However, now that the concept of custody is no longer a part of Illinois law, extracurricular activities are generally split between both parents. 

A majority of parents will agree to make joint decisions regarding extracurricular activities, meaning that each parent has a say in which activities their child will be involved in.

If one parent is content with the child’s engagement in an extracurricular activity while the other objects to it, one of the parents will be required to go to court and force compliance. Subsequently, the court will decide on whether or not the activity is appropriate based on the child’s best interests.

The courts more often than not will agree that extracurricular activities are ideal in many cases, but one reasonable objection a parent might have is that an activity detracts from other aspects of the child’s life. Some activities may interfere with the child’s academic performance or personal life in a negative way.

Once it’s determined that an extracurricular activity is appropriate, parents with parenting time will be responsible for taking the children to those activities.

Determining Which Parent Pays for Extracurricular Activities Following a Divorce

Prior to paying for extracurricular activities after a divorce, the court must determine if the activity qualifies as an extracurricular activity. If the activity isn’t extracurricular, neither parent will be required to pay for it.

However, Illinois doesn’t have a specific definition in its statute for an extracurricular activity. Because of the lack of a definition according to the Illinois statute, the courts will often refer to the dictionary.

Nearly any activity can be considered extracurricular according to Illinois law based on the implications of the statute and the dictionary definition of the term. While a parent may object to a specific activity due to the cost, evidence such as photos of the child enjoying the activity may help prove that the activity is worthwhile, especially if the finances are available.

Ultimately, the courts will determine if an activity is in the best interests of the child involved.

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