Adult and child

Virtually all parents are supportive of children who have a special talent, whether it involves sports, the arts, technology or other areas outside the usual academic pursuits. Having a truly gifted child with the potential to take his or her talents far, however, can be costly. No one wants one's children's dreams to be squashed due to a divorce.

Being raised by a divorced single parent needn't keep someone from excelling. Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas are just two recent Olympic gold medalists who were raised by divorced moms.

What Factors Do Judges Consider?

However, what happens if your ex-spouse balks at the idea of paying additional child support to cover travel, equipment, coaches, competition fees and the other expenses needed by a child with extraordinary talent to pursue his or her dreams? Most states include language in their child support laws involving "gifted or special needs" children.

Just as kids with disabilities or psychological issues often require additional resources to help them live their lives to the fullest, so do children with special talents. Since most judges use the "best interest of the child" standard in custody and support decisions, many consider helping kids pursue their unique talents in keeping with that standard.

Of course, each parent's income and other assets are considered. However, judges also look at how much commitment and talent the child has. A child's mother may be convinced that her daughter is the next Misty Copland or a father may be determined to make his son his generation's Tiger Woods. However, if the child has displayed no extraordinary talent and/or no real drive to pursue ballet or golf, the judge will likely be less inclined to order additional child support by the other parent. If one parent is more enthusiastic than the other about the child pursuing an activity, that parent may need to bear the bulk of the expenses, all things being equal financially.

When Should the Additional Support Be Sought?

If the activity is one that the child is pursuing when the parents divorce, the added expenses should be worked out in the original child support agreement. If it comes along later, the parents may need to go back to court to renegotiate it.

Ideally, both parents want to support their children's dreams equally and can work out a way to do that without going to battle over who pays how much. Together, they may be able to help their child get needed money through grants and scholarships. Family law attorneys can help parents who are seeking additional support for their gifted children.