Finding Solutions To Complex Issues

3 ways hockey and other sports can complicate shared custody

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Child Custody |

A child’s athletic endeavors can affect their entire family. Sometimes, participating in a particular sport is a family tradition. A teenager may try out for the high school hockey team in part because their father played hockey when they were in school. Other times, the entire family must make adjustments to accommodate the financial demands and scheduling strain generated by sports participation in middle school or high school.

It can be very difficult for families to handle youth sports, and the challenges only increase when parents separate or divorce. A young adult’s involvement in athletic activities can strain parenting arrangements, possibly by triggering arguments about one of the three issues below.

When sports involvement is appropriate

Adults typically have the final decision-making authority for children in their households. Therefore, parents get to decide when children are old enough to participate in certain sports. Particularly with full-contact sports like hockey or football, parents may disagree about when it becomes safe for the children to join a team. Additionally, parents may have different ideas about what responsibilities children must fulfill to earn the privilege of sports participation. Standards for grades or household responsibilities may influence a parent’s opinion about a child’s involvement in sports.

How to cover costs

Some sports, like cross country, require a little more than athletic shoes and clothing. Other sports, like hockey, require massive investments in equipment and facilities access. The average young adult’s sports activities cost $700 per year, although certain sports may cost far more than others. Parents may need to negotiate ways to cover the costs of gear, training access and other expenses, as child support likely does not factor in secondary costs like extracurricular activities.

How to adjust the schedule

The older children become, the more time they may devote to practice and games. They may have practice four days a week and games on the weekend. That scheduling pressure can affect how much time one parent gets to spend with their child. The entire family may need to make scheduling adjustments to accommodate the practice and competition schedule of the young adults in sports.

Parents who recognize that sports can cause custody conflicts may better prepare for co-parenting by addressing those issues in their agreements with one another. Creating a thorough parenting plan that discusses issues like sports and expectations for the children can help take some of the conflict risk out of shared custody arrangements.