“School’s out for summer” – four words kids love to hear, and parents dread. Summer can be especially challenging for divorced parents. Now that the kids are out of school, you’ll need to think about additional costs for care and activities. Who will be responsible for these added costs? Are they shared, or does one parent take on that burden? The answer: it depends on the child support guidelines in your state.
Divorce and Summer Camp: Who Foots the Bill?
In some state, summer camp is considered a “necessity” under child support guidelines. In this case, the cost of the camp would be shared by both parents provided the camp serves as a form of day care for the child while the custodial parent is at work.
If camp is considered a necessity, it will be calculated into the basic child support award. The cost may be based on the tuition rates of the camp the child currently attends, or it may be based on the type of camp the child will be attending in the future.
If you’re still in the middle of your divorce and your child plans on attending summer camp, make sure that your attorney puts this expense on the negotiating table when dividing and adding marital assets and liabilities.
It’s never easy to get a non-custodial parent to chip in for the cost of summer camp without an order from the court, so make sure this is part of the negotiations process.
In order for camp to be considered a necessary expense, you need to be able to demonstrate that the camp serves as a form of day care while you are at work.
In terms of who decides which camp the child will go to, that depends on you and your ex. Ideally, your child will have a say in where he or she goes, but both parents should agree on the camp and the expenses associated with the camp.
Camp is a Necessity in New Jersey
In the state of New Jersey, summer camp is considered a necessity by the courts, so if you’re getting divorced in the Garden State, this is an expense that you and your ex will share.
If the custodial parent does not work or is home during the summer, as is the case with teachers, summer camp may be considered an extracurricular activity.
What If Summer Camp Is Not Considered a “Necessity?”
What happens if the state, or the court, doesn’t consider summer camp a necessity? In this case, the expense would likely be considered an extracurricular activity, or “entertainment-related expense.” Entertainment expenses are generally not included in basic child support awards, so the non-custodial parent doesn’t technically have to contribute to these costs.
With that said, the court may still order the non-custodial parent to help pay for this expense because it is in the best interest of the child.
If the child is old enough to care for themselves, summer camp will not even be considered a child care expense.
What About Other Summer Activities?
Expenses for summer camp can be high, which is why most divorced parents argue over who will foot the bill. But what about other activities, such as day trips?
In most cases, these will be treated as supplemental, or extracurricular, activities. The custodial parent will likely be responsible for covering these costs, unless your child support guidelines say otherwise, or the non-custodial parent agrees to help cover these costs.
Summer can be a challenging time for divorced parents, which is why it is imperative that you discuss these matters during your divorce and include them in your agreement. If everyone knows and understands who is responsible for what, both parents can avoid stress and frustration in the future – and actually enjoy the summer vacation.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has a special expertise in working with child custody. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Child Custody & Support blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.