It is a thrilling time to be a San Diego local. It’s not just because Halloween is around the corner, it’s because our home team in Major League Baseball, the San Diego Padres, are currently facing the Phillies in the National League Championship Series. If they win, they go on to compete at the World Series, a place they have not been since 1998. Fans and locals are ready for a Cinderella story victory. The Padres are a club that has yet to win a World Series Championship title, and the city is abuzz with excited energy and hope of what could be.
This playoff series has kept fans on the edges of their seats. The Padres recent underdog victory against the Dodgers was the second biggest statistical upset in baseball playoff history as the Dodgers were 22 games ahead of the Padres at the close of the season. We love to see it. The children of our community really love to see it and the excitement in the community has kids everywhere begging their parents to sign up to play.
If you are going through a divorce, or simply trying to co-parent or parallel-parent your child/children with another person, the issue of extracurricular activities for your kids will likely come up as an issue of debate. Issues that often come up include: What are your legal rights to sign the kids up for extracurriculars? Do you need the other parent’s permission? What happens if the extracurriculars occur during the other parent’s time with the kids? Who pays for the expenses? It is always a good idea to discuss these potential issues and come up with a plan ahead of time, so you aren’t fighting with your co-parent or struggling to get the Court’s assistance right before t-ball sign-ups.
Who has the ability to sign the kids up for extracurricular activities and whether you need the other parent’s permission is generally an issue of who has legal custody of the children. This is because the parent with legal custody of the child has decision-making authority over the child’s health, education, and welfare. This includes the ability to sign the child up for sports or other extracurricular activities.
If you are a parent with sole legal custody, congratulations you have the ability to make these decisions on your own and you do not need the other parent’s consent. Most parents, however, share legal custody in California because California has a public policy that both parents should be involved in the health, education and welfare decisions of their children. It is rare for the Court to award sole legal custody to one parent.
In cases of joint legal custody, each parent generally has the same rights to make decisions concerning their child’s welfare, including extracurricular activities. It is generally a good idea to discuss extracurricular activities with the other parent and reach an agreement before signing the child up for the activity if possible. This simply avoids the issue of conflict in the future, and protects your child from getting disappointed if the other parent is not in agreement with the activity.
However, whichever parent has physical custody of the child at the time may allow their kid to participate in any sport or activity that they see fit unless there is a disagreement between the parents. Unless there is a disagreement over this issue, you should be able to do so without getting their express permission. However, if you and the other parent disagree, consent of the other parent may be required. If you are not able to get the other parent’s permission, court intervention may be required. California Family Code provides the Court with the ability to determine and make orders on the circumstances in which joint mutual consent between the parents is needed. If the Court is involved, then the Court must look to what is in the best interests of the child when making such a determination.
If the activity interferes with the other parent’s time with the child, this may induce the Court to order against the child participating. Oftentimes, custody and visitation orders do not prescribe exact details about the child’s activity schedule and its effect on visitation. As such, some custody and visitation orders state no extracurricular activities may be scheduled during the other parents’ time. In the best scenarios, the parents understand extracurricular activities are good for their child and the parents work out an arrangement that works for everyone involved so the child can participate and have time with both parents. Each custody and visitation order are different, and it is important to review what your order/agreement is before making these decisions.
The issue of who pays for the activities also varies greatly. Many parents agree to split the costs 50/50 unless one parent does not consent to the extracurricular activity. That does not necessarily mean the parent refuses for the child to participate in the activity, it just means the parent won’t be contributing to the payment for the activity. This issue can become a big problem when one parent is a significantly higher earner than the other, and the extracurricular activity is expensive. This is another case where every case and order are different, and many custody and visitation orders do not address the issue of payment. As such, if no agreement can be reached with the other parent, court intervention may be necessary.
Extracurricular activities should be a fun thing for your kids and you to experience with them. Don’t let the frustrations of co-parenting/parallel parenting get in the way of that.
LETS GO PADRES!*
*At least until next season for me when I will return to rooting for my original home team the San Francisco Giants. 🙂