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Do I Need the Co-Parent’s Permission for Sports? [2023]

If you have kids, they’re undoubtedly going to get involved in sports or extracurricular activities at some point in their lives. But what if you’re divorced? Can you sign up your child up for, say, football or the flute without the co-parent’s permission in Texas?

As with most things in family law, the answer is, “It depends.” More specifically, it depends on whether there is a court order in place that specifically addresses extracurricular activities. If there is not, a parent generally does not need the co-parent’s permission to sign their child up for activities. However, the best course of action is for both parents to discuss extracurricular activities and make a joint decision that serves the child’s best interests.

In this article, the Fort Worth divorce and child custody attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group explain if and when you need the co-parent’s permission to sign your child up for sports and other extracurricular activities and what to do if you both can’t agree.

What involvement do I have in choosing my child’s sports?


Parental Rights and Decision-Making in Texas Divorces

In Texas, the court typically allocates parental rights and responsibilities, including decision-making authority, between the parents in a divorce. This allocation is outlined in a document called the “conservatorship order” or “parenting plan.” The court’s primary consideration in determining the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities is the best interest of the child.

There are two types of conservatorship in Texas: joint managing conservatorship (JMC) and sole managing conservatorship (SMC). In a JMC, both parents share the rights and duties of raising the child, including making decisions about education, medical care, and extracurricular activities, such as sports. In an SMC, one parent has the exclusive right to make these decisions. The court typically grants JMC unless there is a compelling reason, such as a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, to grant SMC to one parent.

What Does Texas Law Say About Co-Parenting and Extracurricular Activities?

The Texas Family Code is voluminous but it does not address extra-curricular activities directly. For guidance, we must turn to the divorce decree – and see if the parties have a parenting plan in place that addresses extracurricular activities, such as sports or summer camp.

What Does Your Divorce Decree Say About Extracurricular Activities?

The court decree is the legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the divorce, including the parenting arrangement and possession schedules. If the court decree grants one parent the exclusive right to make decisions about the child’s extracurricular activities, then that parent can sign up the child for extracurricular activities without the co-parent’s permission. Likewise, if the divorce decree states that both parents must mutually agree on the decision to sign up for extracurricular activities, then the co-parent’s permission is required.

However, if the court order is silent on the issue of extracurricular activities, then both parents have the right to make decisions about the child’s extracurricular activities when they have possession of the child. In other words, they do not need the co-parent’s permission. What a parent and child do during their parenting time is up to them.

What If We Have a Court Order that Addresses Extracurricular Activities?

If you have a court order that addresses extracurricular activities, then that will be the controlling document. In other words, if you and your co-parent added language to your divorcee decree or child custody agreement about extra-curricular activities, such as sports or summer camps for your children, then those agreements must be honored.

For example, some court orders include provisions that require the non-custodial parent to receive prior notice – say, at least two weeks in advance – before the custodial parent can sign their child up for an extracurricular activity. The court order might also include provisions that allow each parent to select one or two extracurricular activities for the child each year at their cost. The court order could include a provision that says if the co-parent is unable to get the child to their activity, they must notify the other parent immediately and make the child available to that parent for practice or game.

What if We Can’t Agree On Extracurricular Activities?

Co-parenting can be challenging. Parents often disagree about extracurricular activities, especially if they have different opinions about the types of activities that their child should participate in, the cost of activities, the time commitment required or the potential impact on the child’s academic performance.

When disagreements arise and they cannot find a compromise, it may be necessary to seek mediation or court intervention. If this is the case, your first step should be to contact an experienced family law attorney who can explain your options and how to proceed.

Do I Need the Co-Parent's Permission for Sports? [2023]


What Happens if the Co-Parent Scheduled Extracurriculars During My Visitation Time?

If the co-parent has scheduled extracurricular activities for your child during your visitation time, the other parent does not have to honor them. For example, if mom signed up Little Tommy for summer camp during dad’s summer possession schedule, dad does not have to take Tommy to camp during his possession time. However, this could backfire if Tommy really wants to go to camp.
On the other hand, if mom took Little Tommy to summer camp against dad’s wishes during his visiting time, she would likely be in violation of a court order.
Whenever possible, it’s important for both sides to try and work together to come to an agreement or compromise. This could include both parties agreeing to alternate weekends or dividing the week into two parts, with each parent taking responsibility for the child’s sports activities during their designated time.

Can’t Agree on Extracurricular Activities? Contact Us.

If you and your co-parent can’t agree on extracurricular activities, it’s important to consult an experienced family law attorney to explore your options. If you already have an order in place, it may be necessary to modify your current order. If you don’t have an order in place, it may be beneficial to put an agreement in place. Contact Varghese Summersett Family Law Group today at 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation to discuss your options. We’re here to help.

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