By: Curtis Wiberg
Plog & Stein, P.C.
In my career as a family law attorney, I have seen a lot of problems between divorced spouses as they relate to costs associated with minor children’s school and/or extracurricular expenses. Many divorce orders or separation agreements contain provisions for the parties to share expenses of school and extracurricular activities. As with many things in life, however, the devil is in the details, and ambiguities in what qualifies an appropriate expense, and then how reimbursements are to occur result in conflict, mischief, and ultimately litigation. It is incumbent on parties (and to their attorneys) to button down with specificity which expenses are to be split and procedures for reimbursement to avoid problems.
The legal basis for the division of such costs derive from the child support statute, C.R.S. § 14-10-115. As articulated in the Colorado Appeals Court case of In re: Marriage of Laughlin, 932 P.2d 858 (Colo. App. 1995) “The case-by-case determination of child support with which a trial court is charged must include a consideration of factors related to a child’s standard of living and additional needs. Such factors include recreational costs. In re Marriage of LeBlanc, 800 P.2d 1384 (Colo.App.1990); § 14-10-115(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B). In addition, this court has recognized that fees associated with athletic activities can either qualify as educational expenses under § 14-10-115(11)(I) or provide a basis under § 14-10-115(3)(a), C.R.S. (1996 Cum.Supp.) for the deviation from the presumed amount of support. See In re Marriage of Ansay, 839 P.2d 527 (Colo.App.1992). The trial court’s post-hearing orders contain sufficient findings to satisfy us that inclusion of the ice skating fees was warranted here. See In re Marriage of Nielsen, 794 P.2d 1097 (Colo.App.1990) (trial court has discretion to deviate from the guidelines where justified provided it makes appropriate findings).” Per statute, once such fees are identified as being appropriately factored into the child’s overall need, those fees are to be split in proportion to the parties’ incomes. Continue reading