Children extracurricular activities
Children are playing football

When parents head to divorce, their child’s extracurricular activities are one of the many things they must address, ensuring that the child’s needs are met and the activities handled in a fair manner. Extracurricular activities are an important part of building up a child’s abilities and confidence. With the right planning, divorcing parents can ensure that these activities stay in place, even while the child’s family life is changing.

Illinois Law and Parental Responsibilities

The courts, or the parties by agreement, may allocate decision making as to a child’s participation in an extra-curricular activity to either one party or to both parties jointly.  The trend is for the parties to have joint decision making in this regard. 

In Illinois, parental responsibilities are divided into various categories, including religious, medical, extracurricular, and education. The parents who are choosing to divorce must reach an agreement to address decision-making and responsibilities for each of these categories. These are highly individualized decisions unique to each case. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, then a court order may be required.

In other words, both parents have the right to request that a child be involved in a particular extracurricular activity. If the other parent objects and they cannot reach an agreement, then the case will go to court to be decided in the best interests of the child.

How the Courts View Extracurricular Activities

In most cases, courts will agree that an extracurricular activity is a good idea for the child. However, parents opposed to the activity can argue with the help of a child custody attorney that either the activity is inappropriate or it is too much for the child to tackle. If the activity detracts from schoolwork or other responsibilities, or if the activity would create an unfair balance with other siblings, then the courts may rule against it.

Parenting Time, Cost, and Extracurricular Activities

If a child will participate in an extracurricular activity, then whichever parent is currently having parenting time is responsible for transportation to and from the activity.

Paying for extracurricular activities becomes the responsibility of both parents. Often parents will share these expenses, but when the activity’s need or validity is questioned, it can bring up questions of payment as well. Some divorcing parents will add “contribution caps” to their parenting agreement that frees the parents from contributing more than a set limit to extracurricular. Without this, each activity brings the potential for a new disagreement, and stopping the activity may require the help of a judge.