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On October 21, an Ocean County, New Jersey judge ruled that additional child support may be required to develop a gifted child’s talent. Typically, extracurricular activities are covered by basic child support payments. However, Superior Court Judge Leonard Jones said, “Additional support may be ordered when the activities advance a child’s potential.”

In a case of a 13-year-old Ocean County girl, the mother asked her ex-husband to pay half the cost for her daughter to pursue a career in acting. This would include travel, clothing, makeup, and acting coach expenses. The former husband, who makes $33,000 a year and pays $113 a week in child support, objected to the request.

Judge Jones said the cost of extracurricular activities are usually covered by basic child support, although the guidelines say “additional financial assistance can be awarded to pay for costs to develop the special needs of a gifted child.” Courts recognize special gifts in the areas of arts, academics, technology, and athletics.

Judge Jones said, determining giftedness in the context of the arts may be difficult because an actor’s performance is subjective. Also, having an expert witness testify to the giftedness of a child is not enough. A child with a lot of talent may lack commitment and drive.

In this case, Judge Jones ruled that the 13-year-old was, in fact, a gifted child due to her attitude, confidence, and willingness to work hard. He ordered her father to pay an additional $5 a week. Her mother, whom she lives with, earns $23,000 annually, will also pay $5 a week toward her theater activities.

The lawyers at Larry McCord & Associates, LLC have experience representing spouses in all aspects of matrimonial and family law litigation. The financial complexities in divorce cases can be overwhelming. Please contact Larry McCord and Associates, LLC at (631) 643-3084 to learn more about the firm’s services and approach to child support disputes.

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