Divorced Parents: Who Pays For Summer Camp?
You and your child’s other parent divorced last winter and now August is rapidly approaching. During your marriage, you and your spouse would send your child to “sleep-away” summer camp. Finances were certainly different for everyone when you were still sharing one household. Now, it appears as though neither one of you can foot the bill for the overnight camp on your own. So, will you child have to skip summer camp this year?
Look to your divorce judgment or agreement for guidance
Hopefully, you and your ex were able to work out this item and instructions on how to handle the payment for your child’s sleep-away camp are contained in your marital settlement agreement. Perhaps you decided to divide the expense 50/50. Maybe you based your contributions on the percentage of income you both earn as found in your child support guidelines. However you calculated your payments for camp, the terms of this should be contained in your agreement. There are so many items that get decided in a divorce that perhaps this one slipped your mind. Go in and there and look.
And if camp is not mentioned…
If you and your spouse forgot about sleep-away camp or if you chose to not include this issue in your marital settlement agreement, try to work it out. It is certainly best to come to an agreement with your ex-spouse rather than running back to your attorneys or back to court to figure out who, if anyone will pay for overnight camp.
New Jersey courts treat day camp as a necessity if it serves the same purpose as day care does: as a facility that can provide care for the child while the parent(s) work. Because they serve this function they are necessary for parents and therefore, both parents are seen as financially responsible for this costs. The cost is, indeed built into the child support guidelines.
But, “sleep-away” or overnight camps are not seen as necessary in the same way and are viewed more as a “luxury” for kids in New Jersey. So, even if you believe that it is your right to send your child to a specific overnight camp and that your child’s other parent must pay for it, the court will most likely not agree with your position.
Consider a summer camp compromise
You may want your child to go to a very expensive and exclusive camp out of state but your ex may believe that a local camp here in New Jersey is just as beneficial and much more economical. You may find yourself at an impasse. But, do not dig in your heels and refuse to compromise. Remember, you are supporting two households, now and some items may have to be foregone as you figure out how to make your finances support everyone. Hopefully, you can come to a middle ground so that your child can still take advantage of the experience of summer camp without breaking the bank or without either of you spending finances on attorneys and court costs. Also, attempt to work together to investigate possible forms of assistance in your area that may help cover some of the costs of camp, such as payment plans or scholarships.
Above all, realizing that your child’s best interests are what is most important. Refusing to bend on any issue involving your child will serve no one in your family and could put your child in the middle of an uncomfortable situation. Working together with your child’s other parent will most likely afford a solution that will give your child a happy summer!
Have questions about items like summer camp, other child-related costs? We can help. For answers to all you child and parenting-related divorce questions, please contact us today to schedule your initial consultation. Call today: (888) 888-0919.
Kids & Divorce: Who Pays for Summer Camp?