For many children, summer means attending sports clinics, drama camps, and other specialty programs during the day. When the school year ends, families with school-aged children often use summer camp as an alternative to traditional childcare. In cases of divorce or unmarried parents, determining which parent will pay for these activities is an important concern.
Incorporating Clauses into Parenting Agreements
One of the most efficient ways to handle to this question is to incorporate a specific clause into the parenting agreement setting forth how summer activity expenses will be paid. Depending on the financial means of the parents, these expenses can be split evenly or proportionally. Sometimes one parent will reimburse the other parent for a share of the expense or pay their portion directly to the summer camp provider.
Modifying Child Support Orders
Unfortunately, parents often are unable to amicably work out an agreement with respect to the payment of these summertime expenses. The expensive nature of summer camps makes this issue especially contentious. Parents can petition the court to order a higher amount of child support during the summer months to account for these increased expenses. This approach is most successful when a parent can prove summer camp is a “work-related” childcare expense. When attending a summer camp is an expense viewed in the “best interest” of the child, a court will be more likely to include it in child support calculations.
Non-custodial parents who agree to pay for summer camp may request an abatement in the amount of child support being paid to reflect these new expenses. Parents should never reduce or stop paying court ordered child support simply because they are paying additional child-related expenses such as summer camp. Unless a court order is issued reflecting a change in child support amount, a parent will face contempt charges for failing to pay court ordered amounts. Being found guilty of contempt can have serious consequences including significant fines or jail time.
Communication is Key
As with other parenting decisions, communicating any decision to enroll a child in a summer camp is an important part of co-parenting. Courts will look unfavorably on parents who unilaterally enroll their children in a summer camp without the consent of the other parent, particularly in cases of shared physical custody. Providing sufficient notice and allowing for input from the other parent will help a parent’s case if judicial intervention is necessary to get the other parent to share the expense.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Changing the terms of an existing child support order or court-approved parenting plan can be a complicated process. Most courts require proof a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Obtaining the legal assistance of an experienced Towson family law attorney to help you navigate the legal proceedings is the most effective way to ensure the costs of summer camp are shared in a fair and just manner.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Handle Child Support and Child Custody Matters
At Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, our experienced Towson divorce lawyers handle child support and child custody matters including the drafting of parenting plans. With offices conveniently located in Towson and Hunt Valley, Maryland, we proudly serve individuals and families throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks, Parkton, Pikesville, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County. To schedule a free initial confidential consultation with an experienced Baltimore County child custody lawyer today, call us at 443-589-0150 or submit an online inquiry form.