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Who Pays for a Child’s Private Schooling and Extracurricular Activities?

When parents get divorced, Pennsylvania law has specific guidelines that judges use to determine how much child support should be paid. But the guidelines are designed only to calculate costs of food, clothing, shelter, health care and other essentials. When extraordinary expenses arise that are outside the scope of basic child-rearing, the court must decide how to allocate them between both parents. Private school tuition is one example of an extraordinary expense. Another is the cost of extracurricular activities.

Private school means high school and earlier, since Pennsylvania has abolished child support for college expenses. In cases involving private school tuition, a judge will consider several factors, among them:

  • What was the family’s financial standard of living before the end of the marriage?
  • Based on the family’s financial status, was the child expected to attend private school if the parents had stayed married?
  • Was the child already attending private school at the time of the divorce?
  • Does an older sibling attend the same private school?
  • Is there a lack of quality public schools in the area?

If the evidence shows that the child would likely have enrolled in private school if the parents were still married, the judge may order each parent to pay a portion of the private school tuition. Very rarely would a judge order one parent to cover the whole cost. If the custodial parent suddenly wants to enroll a child in private school without the other’s approval, the judge may choose not to order the other parent to pay a portion of the tuition.

Another extraordinary expense that can also be added to child support is the cost of extracurricular activities. This could include sports, music lessons, tutoring and various other endeavors. Normally, courts will approve these expenses only if they are reasonable and in line with the family’s pre-divorce standard of living. The cost of these expenses will usually be allocated between both parents based on their incomes.

If you have a child support issue involving private education, extracurricular activities or another extraordinary expense, reach out to The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney, P.C. in Yardley for help. Our attorneys are experienced in resolving child support issues to ensure that children grow up in the environment they deserve. To speak with a lawyer, please call 215.493.3360 or contact us online.

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