Co-Parenting Through Summer Camp

With the end of the school year in sight, many parents are starting to make childcare plans for the summer break.  Often, parents use summer camp as an alternative to traditional childcare, such as a daycare center or nanny.  There are summer camps, both day and overnight, for just about every interest – performing arts, religion, science, sports, and more!  Deciding how a child will spend his or her summer is complicated for married parents, and can be even more challenging for separated parents who share physical custody of their child.  That is why it is important to address summer camp in your divorce or custody case.

How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact summer camp planning?

While children under the age of sixteen are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that camp is a safe option for summer 2021 as long as the proper mitigation measures, such as wearing masks, hand-washing, and social distancing, are followed.  Before registering your child for a summer program, consider asking the camp director about the camp’s policies for ensuring that a healthy environment is maintained.  Will staff members and campers be required to wear masks?  How often will the camp facilities be cleaned and disinfected?  Will campers be separated into small groups?  Is there a plan in place should someone become sick?  If you have questions or concerns about sending your child to summer camp this year, it is best to discuss the issue with your child’s healthcare provider.

Why should summer camp be addressed in a divorce or custody case?

If summer camp is not raised in your divorce or custody case, it may become a source of contention between you and your ex each year.  Who will select which camps the child will attend?  Who is responsible for the cost of summer camp?  Will vacation plans with one parent supersede the camp schedule?  Answering these questions in your Marital Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan will prevent you from running back to your attorney or the court when there is disagreement over your child’s summer schedule.

When should parents discuss summer plans?

You should communicate with your child’s other parent about proposed plans for the summer as early as possible to minimize conflict and confusion.  Some parents set a deadline in the spring by which they will exchange ideas.  Others alternate which parent arranges the child’s summer schedule each year.  Summer is a time of relaxation and fun for children, and having open communication with your child’s other parent is a major factor in ensuring that your child has a stress-free summer.

How should the cost of summer camp be divided?

How the cost of summer camp is divided should be outlined in a Marital Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan.  Typically, parents divide the cost of any agreed upon summer camp 50/50 or in proportion to their respective incomes.  Keep in mind that most summer camps offer financial assistance, similar to a scholarship, to families that qualify.

Do I need to compromise with my child’s other parent regarding camp?

There may be times when you need to compromise with your child’s other parent while planning his or her summer.  Perhaps your ex is not able to afford the expensive overnight summer camp that you proposed.  Or maybe the other parent wants the child to attend a more academic-focused summer camp.  It is important to remember that your child’s best interest is the priority; co-parenting is not about your feelings, but about the happiness and well-being of your child.  Refusing to compromise may only put your child in the middle of an uncomfortable situation.  By cooperating with the other parent, you are setting a healthy example for your child and setting him or her up to have a happy summer.

The family law attorneys at Brown, Goldstein & Levy have assisted many parents in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Howard County, Frederick County, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County with drafting provisions regarding summer camp in their divorce and custody agreements.  If you need legal assistance in a Maryland divorce or custody case, contact our family law attorneys, Dana McKee and Alyssa Hildreth, at 410-962-1030 to schedule a consultation.

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