Every parent wants their children tested for gifted programming. But parents going through divorce may find that a gifted child could cause them to pay additional child support to develop their child’s talent.
A couple just found out that gifted children can cost more in a divorce. A New Jersey family court recently judge ruled that basic child support payments, which usually cover the costs of a child’s extra-curricular activities, may not be enough to help advance a child’s potential.
In the New Jersey case, the mother of the teen – referred to as Julie in the judge’s decision – asked her ex-husband to pay half of their daughter’s costs of pursuing an acting career, including clothing, travel, make-up, dues and coaching. Her former husband objected, insisting those expenses are covered by the $113 he pays in weekly child support.
I’ve written about child support in Florida before. In Florida, a court may adjust child support based upon deviation factors, which can include things like:
(1) Extraordinary educational expenses, and
(2) Meeting special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines.
The New Jersey Judge said:
While New Jersey’s child support guidelines say those costs generally are covered in basic child support, the guidelines also say additional financial support can be ordered to help pay for costs related to developing the special needs of a gifted child.
Courts generally recognize children’s special gifts in the areas of academics, athletics, technology and the arts. Determining giftedness can be slightly more difficult in the arts because an actor’s performance can be subjective – “mesmerizing” to some and “stale as a bucket of overpriced popcorn” to others.
He said it isn’t enough to have an “expert” testify to the giftedness of a child because the child may have extreme talent but may not have the drive, discipline or commitment to achieve that greatness.
“In this case, Julie demonstrates such an unusually heightened desire and ability, through her attitude, her confidence, and her willingness to work hard and commit,” Jones wrote. “In this respect, she is in fact a gifted child.”
The judge ordered Julie’s father, who earns about $33,000 annually, to pay an additional $5 a week toward her theater activities. Julie lives with her mother, who earns about $23,000 a year and who will also have to set aside $5 a week to pay for those additional activities, Jones said.
The New Jersey article is available here.