For the Love of Summer!

For the Love of Summer

Summer is almost here! Everyone is talking about school ending, summer camp and long-awaited summer vacations. You can almost see the Fourth of July celebrations if you close your eyes. All the summer excitement leads to many common questions from clients which I will explore here.

Question 1: “Do I have to pay for camp” or “will my spouse still have to contribute to the cost of camp?”

Aside from basic child support, one child support add on expense is childcare. That means that aside from basic child support, both parties need to contribute to the cost of childcareif needed in connection with the residential, custodial parent’s employment, or employment training, which is paid proportionate to each party’s respective incomes. If applicable, camp is used as a form of summer childcare, then most likely, the parties will be obligated to contribute their respective shares of the cost of camp. However, if the parties previously sent the children to an expensive summer camp or sleep away camp, that does not necessarily mean that the Courts, upon divorce, will direct the parties to pay for their children to attend that same camp. Reasonableness must be applied.  Sleepaway camp, for example, which may have been the past practice of the parties, is far more expensive than day camp. Clearly, if childcare is applicable, they do not necessarily need childcare overnight, and as such, the Court may not force the parties to pay for sleep away camp.

If summer camp is not needed for childcare (e.g. the custodial parent is not employed, training to be employed, or does not work over the summer), then an obligation to pay for summer camp may not be imposed, unless agreed upon by the parties. In this case, summary camp may be seen as an extracurricular activity which is not a statutory child support add on.

Question 2: “If my child goes to sleepaway away camp, do I still have to pay child support?”

The answer is yes. Just because a child is at sleep away camp does not mean that basic child support is suspended. One basis for this is that the custodial parent will still have to maintain housing for the child even though he/she is at sleep away camp and will still have to purchase summer clothing and pay other expenses on behalf of the child/children.

Question 3: “Do we split the summer parenting time equally?”

Unless agreed upon by the parties, typically, the Courts award both parties up to two (2) weeksover the summer. Depending upon the age of the child and the positions of the parties will determine if those weeks should be consecutive, or non-consecutive.  However, this is not a blanket rule, and the courts may apply discretion in dividing the months, or weeks equally.

Question 4: “Does July 4th alternate, or fall within a summer vacation week if selected?”

Typically, July 4th will be alternated. This is typically a separately delineated holiday like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving Day. Therefore, if each party is entitled to two (2) weeks of summer vacation over the summer, unless it is your year to celebrate July 4th with the child / children, you cannot select a week that includes July 4th if the other parent is scheduled to celebrate this holiday with the child/children this year.

Question 5: “Can my ex-spouse permit our child to operate a boat this summer without my consent?”

If the parties have joint legal custody, meaning that they must consult and agree upon all major decisions concerning the child / children, then it can be argued that consent must be provided for the other party to permit their child to operate a boat as it can be considered a major decision. The age at which a child can operate a boat, car, motorcycle or other vehicle can be considered a major decision. If one party has sole legal custody, meaning he/she does not have to obtain consent from the other party, then that party can unilaterally make this decision. However, this may always be challenged by the other parent if the decision is not safe for the child/children.


Summer is truly a magical time of year, but presents many questions, the above of which are not all encompassing. Keep in mind that each party’s Stipulation of Settlement and Judgment of Divorce or other Order relating to custody and parenting time can be different. The abovegeneral answers to common summer related questions can vary depending upon the terms of that party’s Stipulation, Judgment or Order, which are controlling.

If you have a question about how to proceed with a topic for the summer, a member of Geffner Kersch will be able to guide you in the right direction.