The Ocean City Superior Court has held that a parent in a divorce proceeding may be required to pay additional child support if there is a clear showing that the child is gifted or talented. Lawrence Jones, the Superior Court Judge assigned to the case, recognized that the state’s current child support guidelines give no indication of how to deal with the additional costs associated with the needs of a gifted or talented child.
The case before the Ocean City Superior court involved a divorce proceeding in which the child had a strong interest and ability in acting. The 13-year-old child aspires to be a Broadway actor, and has shown an interest in devoting a substantial amount of time in perfecting her skills. Through interviews with the child, the court determined that the child has a deep dedication and focus on her performance skills. In the interest of helping the child recognize her dream, the parents argued about the hundreds of dollars a year that would have to be devoted to her performance activities.
The Superior Court found little precedent in relation to whether the court should take into a child’s special talent when awarding child custody payments. The parents in the case who represented themselves argued about whether the additional costs for the child should be paid out of the already existing child support payments, or whether the father should be ordered to provide additional payments.
The court established that the first element to look at when addressing a gifted child is whether the parent can afford additional payments. In his decision, Jones stated “the child’s gifts and talents should be financially supported only to an economically reasonable extent.” Any additional calculation would be determined by the cost of the activities and the parent’s fiscal ability to make additional payments. In the case before the court, the Judge ordered both parents to set aside $250 a year to cover the child’s acting interests.
The court addressed in its decision that going forward any determination of additional payments will be made on a case by case basis. The decision is aimed at helping a child progress into adulthood, and opening the door for a child to possibly obtain college scholarships. The judge noted that this decision may save both parents money in the long run, while enhancing the child’s confidence, self-esteem, and overall enjoyment of life.
When it comes to child support, it is not just about money, but ensuring that your children have what they need to be happy and healthy. If you have questions about child support, contact a skilled attorney who can advise you regarding family law matters. The attorneys at Hunziker, Jones, and Sweeney are experienced in all child support matters. Call (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.