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Divorce, child custody and the budding Olympian

Americans across the nation have been tuning into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Watching elite athletes compete for medals and win is truly inspiring. What is also inspiring are the sacrifices their parents made to help these athletes on the road to gold. Moreover, these athletes serve as role models to children in Gig Harbor and nationwide, whether the children are involved in swimming, gymnastics or any other sport.

Now, most children involved in sports will not go on to be Olympians. Still, there are many benefits for children to being involved in sports. That being said, sporting activities can cost both money and time. While accommodating for this can be challenging when a child's parents are married, if the child's parents are divorced the situation becomes more complex.

When parents divorce, a child custody and parenting plan will be entered into. If a child is committed to a particular sport, his or her parents will have to determine as a part of their parenting plan how they will divide the costs of the sport, along with the logistics of getting the child to practices and competitions. If this aspect of childhood is overlooked in the original parenting plan, it could cause conflict later on down the road if the parents do not agree on the child's involvement in the sport.

That is why it is important to address extracurricular activities in your parenting plan from the get-go. Even parents who share joint legal custody of their child (meaning they share the ability to make important decisions regarding their child's life) may still need to come to a written agreement in the parenting plan regarding extracurricular activities.

Moreover, parents need to contemplate how they will handle going to their child's games, competitions or meets. Will they both attend every event? Will they take turns attending these events? Laying out the groundwork for how they will handle such situations will not only avoid surprises but can decrease the stress the child might feel.

Creating a parenting plan can be complex, and certain issues such as extracurricular activities may be overlooked. However, it is for the benefit of the child that his or her parents come to an agreement regarding the child's participation in extracurricular activities, so the child has the opportunity to participate in a meaningful activity.

Source: Communities Digital News, "Kids, sports and divorce: bringing up the next Olympic star," Myra Fleischer, Aug. 13, 2016

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