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Athletically gifted children and child support

As Minnesotans watched the Summer Olympics, they may have been interested in learning that several of the gold medal winners on the U.S. Olympic Team were raised by divorced parents. With training, trips and equipment costing hundreds of dollars each month for children who are at the top of their games, people may wonder which parent is responsible for footing the bill for athletes who are pursuing Olympic dreams.

The child support guidelines include a portion of child support that is allocated for extracurricular activities and entertainment. If a child begins taking lessons after a divorce, that portion of the ordered child support may be used to pay for them if the parent who receives the support chooses to do so. If the child was already showing great promise in his or her sport before the divorce, the parent who will receive the support may argue for additional amounts to be added to the base child support on the basis that the gifted child has extraordinary needs.

In order to determine whether or not to grant an additional amount of child support based on the extraordinary needs of the child, a judge will consider several things, including the relative incomes of both of the child's parents. The judge will also review any prior child support orders or agreements to see if the child's participation in the sport was addressed. Finally, the judge will consider the child's commitment to continuing on in the sport along with his or her talent.

A family law judge bases the child support decision upon the best interests of the child, but this does not mean that the judge will always order added amounts for sports training and participation. A family law attorney might advise a client regarding the likelihood of obtaining an increased amount as well as possible alternative sources of funding such as scholarships.

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