Law Office of Daniel E. Forrest, P.A.

Sharing in the cost of a quinceañera or bar or bat mitzvah after divorce 

During the stressful time of a divorce, especially if there are children to care for, some things may not occur to a parent as he or she heads into negotiations with the soon-to-be ex over the terms of their divorce. For a religious family, it is a good idea to think through related expenses that will come up along the way to adulthood -- like those affiliated with religious milestones.

Rites of passage of Florida teens 

In Florida, two common coming-of-age ceremonies are bar and bat mitzvahs for Jewish teens and quinceañeras for Catholic girls in the Latino community turning 15. Both events traditionally begin with a period of religious instruction, culminating with a special ceremony in the synagogue or church. While there are usually costs connected with the religious instruction, use of the place of worship and ceremony, it is customary among most families to follow the religious component of the special day with a celebration for family and friends. 

In addition, a morning bar or bat mitzvah may require a luncheon called a Kiddush hosted by the family for ceremony attendees. 

While families can host less extravagant parties for these milestones, in some social circles, the costs associated with the religious ceremony followed by a large event for invited guests can be tens of thousands of dollars, rivaling the cost and scale of a wedding. According to a recent Los Angeles Times editorial, the average cost of a quinceañera is $10,000, while emitz.com reports that the average cost of a bar or bat mitzvah is roughly $15,000 to $30,000. 

Focus on the child's best interest 

All decisions impacting children in Florida divorce and child support matters are guided by the child's best interest. Beginning a discussion of how a coming-of-age ceremony and celebration is in a child's best interest can help frame the financial and logistical issues for negotiation. Is the event a tradition in immediate or extended family? Is the child or family religious? Would the event be a meaningful and important experience for the child? 

Even if the child is still very young, it is likely better to negotiate a resolution to the potential cost sharing for a coming-of-age ceremony and party in case it does eventually become something that is in the child's best interest to do. Addressing the issues early on can prevent headache and stress later. 

For example, if a plan is not in place in the original divorce, one parent may have to approach the other to negotiate about an upcoming ceremony and party years later. It may even be necessary to go back to court to try to get the other parent's financial contribution, the outcome of which will not be certain. 

In our next post, we will continue our discussion of coming-of-age ceremonies and divorce.

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