For most children in New Jersey, the school year has come to a close and summer has officially begun. While this is generally a care-free and fun-filled time for children, the summer can present a number of logistical issues for divorced parents, particularly if both parents work full time. Summer camp is a great option because it provides a fun, safe environment where children are able to spend time outside, make new friends and maybe even learn a thing or two. However, summer camps can be very expensive, particularly if the children are attending sleepaway camp. This can lead to arguments over who is responsible for footing the bill. If you are in the process of getting a divorce, a highly skilled divorce lawyer will walk you through every step of the divorce process and ensure that these expenses are included in the divorce agreement.
Who Pays for Summer Camp?
While summer camp was once considered a luxury for parents who could afford to send their children to day camp or sleepaway camp for the summer, it has become a necessary child care alternative for working parents and those who are divorced, or going through a divorce. According to the New Jersey Support Guidelines, summer camp is considered a necessary expense, which means that the cost of the camp should be shared by both parents. A share of the costs is calculated as part of the basic child support award. These expenses can significantly increase the amount of the child support award, so it is extremely important that both parents discuss the costs associated with summer camp as soon as possible.
Are There Exceptions to Summer Camp Being Considered a Necessity?
While summer camp is considered a necessity in New Jersey, there are situations where summer camp may be considered an extracurricular activity rather than a necessity. For example, if the custodial parent does not work, or is home during the summer, there is no need for childcare. The parent may still want to send the kids to camp for social, recreational and educational purposes, but the cost of camp may not be included in the basic child support award, unless the court believes that it is in the best interest of the child, in which case the non-custodial parent may have to contribute to the camp costs.
What If Parents Cannot Reach an Agreement About Camp Costs?
In circumstances where summer camp is considered a supplemental expense, determining who is responsible for those expenses can become a bit more complicated. The following tips can help parents manage these costs:
- Include camp as an item to negotiate. Sending your kids to camp may not be a necessity, but you may want your children to experience all that camp has to offer. If you and your former spouse are not on the same page when it comes to sending the kids to camp, or if you want to send the kids to a particular camp that costs more than others, but your former spouse prefers to send them to a more affordable camp, these are issues that should be discussed during divorce negotiations.
- Be willing to compromise. When navigating a divorce and negotiating who is going to be responsible for certain expenses, the process will go much more smoothly if both parties are willing to compromise. For example, while you may want your children to attend a prestigious – and expensive – camp, and your former spouse suggests a camp at the local YMCA, you are more likely to find a camp that makes everyone happy if you are both willing to compromise.
- Look into other forms of assistance. If your former spouse is unwilling to compromise, you may be able to get financial assistance in other ways. For example, some camps offer sliding scale rates, and some provide scholarships to families who qualify.
Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Assist Clients with Child Support Issues
If you and your spouse are divorcing, and you have questions or concerns about child support, including who is responsible for paying for summer camp and other summer-related activities, do not hesitate to contact our Marlton divorce lawyers at Burnham Douglass. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 856-372-5107 or contact us online. With offices located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout New Jersey, Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.