Divorce and Summer CampNo we’re not going to talk about a new summer camp where you go to get a divorce… though maybe it’s not such a bad idea.  What we are going to look at is who is responsible for the cost of sending your kids to summer camp when divorced.  Who pays for summer camp?

In some states the child support guidelines state that summer camp for children is perceived as a “necessity” and therefore it is a cost that is to be shared by the parents… when the summer camp functions as day care for the child while the custodial parent is at work. For families where this is the case, a share of summer camp costs is then calculated as part of the basic child support award. This amount can be based on tuition rates associated with the camp the child currently attends or the type of camp the child will attend in the future.

If you are currently going through a divorce and you want your child to attend a summer camp, make sure your divorce attorney puts this on the negotiating table when you are adding up and dividing your marital assets and liabilities.  After your divorce is final it will be nearly impossible to get a parent that is reluctant about summer camp, to agree to pitch in and help financially… it is imperative that you make the cost of camp part of the divorce negotiations.

The cost of sending your kids to summer camp can be overwhelming for some divorced parents.  Divorced parents often find themselves with half of the resources they once had… and the complication of shared custody.

According to Lawyers.com, in those states where summer camp is not considered a necessity, rather an extracurricular activity, “…typically, child support guidelines distinguish between child-related expenses that are included in the basic child support award and entertainment-related expenses. Entertainment-related expenses are generally not included in basic child support awards. Thus, the non-custodial parent (one who does not have physical custody) does not have to contribute to the cost associated with extracurricular activities.”

If a distinction can be made between “extracurricular activities” and child care” when it comes to summer camp, they offer this advice… “Whether summer camp is considered “child care” makes a big difference in child support obligations. The primary factor considered by the courts is whether summer camp is essentially taking the place of necessary child care because the custodial parent is working or going to school. Presumably, if the family unit had remained intact, both parents would treat child care as a necessary cost. As such, the expense incurred would be for the benefit of the child(ren) that both parents should share.

However, if a child is old enough to go without child care, the cost of summer camp is not considered child care. If summer camp is not “child care,” but rather a discretionary expense, the cost may or may not have to be shared by the non-custodial parent. That said, even if summer camp is not deemed to be a necessary child care expense, a court can order the cost to be paid as an added expenditure in the best interests of the child(ren).”

No matter whether the cost of your child’s summer camp is included in your divorce decree or not, there are a few things you can do to help with offsetting the cost.

Your first step in finding an affordable summer camp for your kids is to visit the family-dedicated web site of the American Camp Association, www.CampParents.org and utilize the Find a Camp database to search for camps within a certain price range.  You can search by length of stay, age groups, location and specific activities.

Fees to attend camp vary, and parents may be surprised to learn that among ACA-Accredited® camps, fees can be as low as less than $100 per week for day camps. Among resident camps, one out of four camps has weekly fees between $100 and $300. If a parent is looking to estimate costs, it’s helpful to know that the median weekly fee for day camps is $182, and for resident camps, $390.

Financial Aid

Many summer camps offer assistance to families that qualify.  Close to 90 percent of camps offer some form of financial assistance, kind of like a scholarship for camp.  These “camperships” normally cover a percentage or all of the camp enrollment fees. Be aware that many camps may not offer you the option of financial assistance up-front, so you need to ask if there is assistance is available.

For more information of finding and paying for the best summer camp for your kids, check out the article “How to Afford the Best Summer Camp for Your Kids” published by our sister site DebtHelper.com.


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