Considerations for special expenses during a divorce

A divorce involving Texas parents means not only the division of assets but also a consideration of the responsibilities and expenses related to raising their children. Child support settlements indicate what parents are responsible for, including entertainment expenses that range from concert tickets and movie rentals to extracurricular activities and basic classes such as swimming lessons. But when a child is determined to become an elite athlete, the question arises as to who pays for the special expenses related to the activity.

In many states, child support guidelines include language related to gifted or special needs children, which can be invoked in certain cases. In the case of a child who is a gifted athlete, a family court judge might choose to cite this language to address how the special expenses are covered and by who, particularly if it is deemed that it is in the best interest of the child to continue pursuing the sport.

However, simply deciding that it is in the best interest of the child to pursue the sport is not the only thing a judge looks at in deciding who should pay for the expenses. Courts will analyze both parents’ incomes, the existing settlement agreement, which might already include provisions for who pays if the child was already pursuing the sport before the couple ended their marriage, and the child’s talent and commitment to pursuing the sport, before deciding on how to address responsibility for the expenses.

Not all divorced parents go to court when it comes to special expenses such as these. In some cases, one parent will be more enthusiastic than the other about the sport and will therefore make additional sacrifices or find ways to pay for the expenses themselves. In other cases, the parents will try to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of their respective attorneys.