This is actually a common question, and the answer is…it depends. That is a common answer in Family Law cases because family law is held in a court of equity (or fairness) and not a court of law (dictated by rules) therefore, a subjective analysis on most issues can change the answer from one courtroom to another courtroom. One thing most judges do have in common, is that they will always look for what is in the child’s best interest, always weighing in with the parents constitutional right to parent their children.
If the extracurricular activity has been going on for years, and the child likes the activity, chances are the judge will order that both parties shall take the minor child to and from the activity when that child is in their custody and control. If it is a new activity, and it is predominantly during the other parents time-sharing, that may be a different answer, if it is a refusal for a good reason. However, if a parent refuses to permit the child to participate in activities and it is because they do not want to pay for that activity, or are using the refusal as leverage to negotiate a lower child support, those defenses are not going to be very persuasive to a judge. A child should not suffer or be punished because his/her parents are not together. A child should be as minimally affected in his/her life style as possible. It is difficult enough for a child to not have both parents at home, and to “punish” the child by not permitting them to engage in activities that they have traditionally participated in is just wrong, and the courts will usually agree to that position.
Questions like, “can he do that?” or “is she allowed to do that?” are hard to answer. Parents do a lot of things that they are statutorily barred from doing; however, there has to be a Motion or Petition filed and an order entered by a Judge before the behavior can be stopped. Just because the statute says something does not mean that the parents are going to follow that rule, unfortunately. Parenting is a hard job; however, parenting from two (2) separate homes after a break up is extremely hard. The best advice I can give to parents struggling with shared parenting decisions is, think about your child or children, if you make your decisions based on what is best for them, you will make the right decisions. Children have little to no voice when it comes to time-sharing; however, they are the ones that are most affected by the break-up of their parents. Do all you can do to avoid making the children the victims of the termination of your relationship, they will already be struggling.
For more information on paternity or dissolution (divorce) actions contact an attorney for a consultation at Schwam-Wilcox & Associates to help you navigate though you shared parental responsibility issues.