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Divorce, children and special expenses

When California parents divorce, the child support agreement usually outlines how expenses such as extra-curricular activities will be covered. However, it usually focuses on the ordinary expenses a family might incur as a child grows. But if a child is a gifted athlete in pursuit of Olympic dreams, the question of who will be responsible for those expenses can arise.

Figuring out how to pay for special expenses such as those related to serious training and competition can be be a difficult child support issue. Some agreements include clauses for such expenses, but they are usually limited to the normal training lessons and might not include language that relates to competitions and special training. However, in some states, the guidelines might also allow a clause that addresses special expenses for gifted children. Because courts focus on the best interests of the child, the court would need to determine that it is in the child's best interest to continue with serious training before becoming involved in how the expenses might be handled.

Courts will look at three things before deciding how each parent will be responsible for the expenses. The first thing a court considers is the income of each parent. The court will also look at any standing support order, particularly since it might already be stipulated how the expenses are to be handled if the child was already involved in the sport. Finally, the court will also look at how talented, committed and serious the child is about the sport.

Some parents choose to negotiate how to pay for the expenses themselves without involving the court. If one parent is more enthusiastic about the sport, they might sacrifice more to support their child's goal. However, if going to court is necessary, the parent might benefit from the guidance provided by a family law attorney.

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