Does Child Support Cover Extracurricular Activities in South Carolina?

Contact Us
5 stars (150+)
5.0 Google Rated
100% Secure & Confidential

Child support is designed to help parents pay for their children’s expenses to ensure a happy and healthy upbringing. While most parents would have no issue with child support being used to cover basic needs like food and clothing, some object to the other parent spending the money on extracurricular activities like sports. Does child support include extracurricular activities?

Whether you are the parent who pays child support or the one who receives it, it’s important to understand what the law allows. Greenville, SC family law attorney Angela Frazier explains.

What Expenses Does South Carolina Child Support Cover?

When parents decide to separate or divorce, the one raising the child may experience financial difficulty in doing so. Child support is intended to help the parent pay for the child’s living expenses, particularly those related to:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Medical needs and health insurance
  • Child care
  • Education

Few parents have a problem paying child support for these crucial expenses for their children. However, some parents raise objections to the money being spent on extracurricular costs such as sports, music, art, and other related activities.

While the paying parent may not approve of his or her money covering these expenses, no law dictates how the recipient parent is to use child support. The law also doesn’t give the paying parent a say in what the money can be spent on. It is perfectly legal for a parent to use child support to pay for the child’s extracurricular endeavors. In fact, “recreation” is one of the specific categories of expenditures listed in the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

Do I Have to Pay for Extracurricular Activities If I Pay Child Support?

Beyond the monthly child support obligation, which the recipient parent can use to pay for any of the child’s costs, there is no duty for a parent to pay an additional sum for sports and other hobbies. In other words, the court cannot compel a parent to pay a separate amount of money that is specifically designated for extracurriculars. The parent who wants help paying for extracurricular needs has a few options:

  • Ask the court to modify its prior child support order, provided that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since that order was entered.
  • Ask the other parent to voluntarily pay extra money to help pay for the child’s extracurricular activities.
  • Encourage the other parent to directly participate in and pay for such activities, for example, by taking the child to purchase sports equipment

Children’s Development Includes Exploring Hobbies and Talents

All family law decisions involving children are made with the best interests of the child in mind.

This all-encompassing standard applies to decisions regarding child support. Courts recognize that as children develop, they will naturally express an interest in various hobbies as they explore their unique talents. Many of these are advanced by extracurricular activities like sports and social clubs.

It has long been recognized that extracurriculars play a significant role in a child’s healthy upbringing. Allowing children to participate in activities they enjoy will help them reach their full potential as they grow into adults. For this reason, it is not only acceptable but expected that child support money will pay for fees, equipment, instruments, and other costs typically associated with extracurriculars.

Support Covers Anything That Maintains the Child’s Lifestyle

The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines use a model that calculates the amount “as the share of each parent’s income which would have been spent on the children if the parents and children were living in the same household.” In other words, child support is designed to pay for expenses that maintain the child’s lifestyle. This includes anything that helps the child keep the same standard of living as before the parents’ divorce or separation.

Many children participate in extracurricular activities while their parents are living together or married. A child is not responsible for his or her parents deciding to go their separate ways, but it’s reasonable to expect that at least one parent will want the child to continue participating in the same activities. Continuity like this is often beneficial for the child to cope with the divorce or separation.

Navigating Child Support in South Carolina

The child support guidelines exist to define various terms, establish a formula for calculating a monthly payment amount, and help parents understand their obligation to support their children.

The guidelines are standard, meaning they generally apply to all child support cases. Deviation from the guidelines is permitted only in limited circumstances and requires written findings of fact.

Among the various matters that are addressed in the guidelines are:

  • Income: How the term is defined, what is included, and what is excluded. Income includes a parent’s earnings from self-employment and running a business.
  • Potential income: Parents who either choose not to work or choose not to work full-time (underemployed) can have income imputed to them. This means the court has the right to assume the parent can earn more and base support on that higher income.
  • Other obligations: Courts take into consideration whether a parent is paying child support for other children or alimony. For example, alimony paid to a previous spouse is deducted from a paying parent’s gross income.
  • Health insurance and child care: These are specific needs that are built into the child support obligation. One parent can be ordered to keep the child on his or her health insurance coverage.
  • Unusual custody arrangements: The guidelines include specific rules for how to handle split custody and unusual custody arrangements. Parents should know how many overnights the child spends with both parents to determine if these rules apply.
  • Periodic review and modification: If the Department of Social Services is involved in the payment of support, the amount will usually be reviewed every three years to determine if it’s still appropriate. A parent can also file a motion asking to modify the amount.

Let Our Child Support Attorneys Help You

Child support is complicated, and there are various rules beyond the guidelines that a parent must follow to ensure the court orders an appropriate and fair payment amount. An experienced attorney can assist with not only explaining the guidelines but also the rules of evidence, civil procedure, and discovery, which play a role in child support cases. To get started, reach out to Elliott Frazier — Family, Personal Injury, & Car Accident Attorneys, LLC today.

Elliot Frazier Logo

We look forward to serving you!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.