COVID-19: What Happens When Co-Parents Disagree About Summer Camp?

What Happens When Co-Parents Disagree About Summer Camp?

Day camps in New Jersey are allowed to open on Monday as part of the state’s phased reopening plan. This news may be welcome relief for those parents and kids eager for a return to normal summertime activities. But for other parents with heightened COVID-19 concerns, sending a child to camp for any length of time right now may seem like just too big a risk.

Are you and you ex in disagreement over whether your child should attend newly reopened camps and other summer recreation programs? Learn about your parental rights and co-parenting options…

When one parent has sole legal custody

Legal custody pertains to making choices for the child related to activities such as attending camp. If one co-parent has sole legal custody, that parent is legally entitled to make the decision about whether the child attends camp, so long as the camp does not overlap with the other parent’s time with the child.

If camp does interfere with the other parent’s time, the parent with legal custody could be obligated to provide make-up time. If no agreement can be reached on the makeup time, the parent missing out can file an application with the Court enforcing the parenting time agreement and holding the other parent accountable for interfering with the time.

COVID remains quite concerning, and the parent with legal custody should ensure that camp programs provide clear guidelines and strictly follow state rules for hygiene, social distancing and restricted numbers of campers. The information can be shared with the other co-parent.

When parents have joint legal custody

Some divorced co-parents share legal custody, and so will need to be on the same page when it comes to camps and related decisions.

So if one parent thinks camp is a great idea, but the other parent objects, a middle ground will need to be reached. Some co-parents can come to a practical agreement on their own, perhaps agreeing that the child can attend camp so long as the camp has clear safety measures in place and the child is able to follow agreed upon health practices.

If co-parents typically share the cost of camp, and one parents insists on sending the child to camp over the other parent’s objection, another compromise is for the insistent parent to bear 100% of the costs.

In this event, it’s a good idea for the objecting parent to file an application with the Court to create a record of this objection to camp and the reasons why. If the camp will cut into the objecting parent’s parenting time, make up parenting time should be offered as noted above.

What if you’re concerned because your child has compromised immunity?

When disagreements over health concerns arise, it’s important to carefully weigh what is in the best interests of the child.

For example, if the child is immunocompromised, this may also come into play as you negotiate camp. An objecting parent could have recourse in showing records of the child’s health conditions or that the child is “high-risk” and that it would not be in the child’s best interests to attend camp due to these reasons.

If the pro-camp parent wants the child to attend camp as a form of child care (because the parent works), and the objecting parent can take over care of the child, that could be one solution to cut back on the risks of the child getting sick. The courts would likely view it as in the child’s best interest to spend the day with a parent rather than at a day-camp.

Do you have questions about summer camp and co-parenting, or other custody concerns? We offer an initial attorney consultations where you can discuss your situation and get clear legal advice. To schedule your virtual appointment (phone or video call — your choice) contact us today by calling 888-888-0919, or please click the green button below.

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