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How to deal with an ex who refuses to share in school costs

It is amazing how stores such as Target and Wal-Mart quickly shift their offerings from summer fun items such as swim suits, barbeque grills and fireworks shortly after the Fourth of July holiday to book bags, backpacks and school supplies. This dramatic shift signals that a new school year is around the corner, which means divorced parents with children may be embarking on an annual dispute: who is going to pay for school clothes and supplies?

Further complicating this argument are additional fees for sports leagues, costs for extra-curricular activities and schedule changes for those who are going to new schools. This may prompt frustrated parents to seek a modification of a child support order, so that they may compel a non-custodial parent to contribute more in order to share these additional costs. 

Unfortunately, it is possible that a support modification motion may not achieve this desired result. Support modifications are designed to deal with substantial changes in circumstances (e.g. a job loss, a substantial injury) that prevent a parent previously ordered to pay support from meeting their obligation. As such, changes in school costs, or the choice to send a child to private school (when they previously did not attend one) may not qualify as such a substantial change.

So what is a parent who needs help supposed to do? There may be several options available for parents who are willing to work together, and an experienced family law attorney can help. If they are diametrically opposed to sharing costs, a courtroom may not be the best option.

The preceding is not intended to be legal advice. Specific questions should be directed to an attorney

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