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Determining who pays for sports activities and lessons

As North Carolina residents watched the 2016 Summer Olympics, they might have wondered how the various world-class athletes were able to afford the training they needed to make it to the top of their sports. Some people might find it surprising to learn that stars such as Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas were raised by divorced parents who gave sacrifices to help them to succeed.

When a couple is divorced and one wants to enroll his or her child in sports lessons, a portion of the child support that is earmarked for entertainment or extracurricular activities may be used to pay for the lessons if the recipient wishes. In cases in which a child has already shown promise in his or her sport before the couple was divorced, the question of paying for the expensive training, travel and gear becomes more complicated.

Judges may order additional child support amounts to help to pay for a child's extraordinary expenses if the child is gifted. Judges will not automatically order these added amounts, however. The court will look at the incomes of both parents, the child's apparent talent and commitment to continue with the sport and any prior settlement agreements or court orders regarding the child's participation in the sports activity.

Child custody and support involve many associated issues that must be addressed in an individual case. Every child and family is different, meaning that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Courts make child custody and support decisions based on their assessments of what is in the best interests of the child rather than what is in the best interests of the parents. The goal is to help the child to develop into a well-adjusted, happy and healthy adult.

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