Beware The Reasonableness Of Parties

The Appellate Division was recently asked to resolve a dispute between parties regarding the “reasonable extracurricular activities” of their son who happened to participate in fencing, which could be a very costly endeavor to pursue. Although the parties never married, Defendant father volunteered to pay a significant portion of their son’s upbringing including private school and the ubiquitous “reasonable extracurricular activities.”

As happens all too often, people can differ on what constitutes “reasonable.” When Plaintiff mother sought reimbursement for tournament expenses that father had paid for the past two years, he suddenly decided it was no longer reasonable to expect him to pay for every single fencing tournament their son attended. When mother filed to collect the fees, the trial court found in her favor as father had not shown a changed circumstance warranting relieving him of the obligation.

On appeal in the matter of Valenti v. Bassinder, the Appellate Division likewise found that father had set a precedent by paying for all the tournament expenses for the prior two years and he had not shown that these expenses in dispute were in any way different from the prior ones he had deemed acceptable to pay. They found he was bound by his agreement. It should also be noted that his son is now in college and on the fencing team leading to a “reasonable” conclusion that this might be more than just a casual activity by his son.

As always, it is often best to proceed how you intend to carry on, as the court may hold you to your prior actions regardless of whether you still believe it is “reasonable” or not. Posted by Elizabeth A. Calandrillo, Esq.