With the summer months fast approaching, children will be heading to summer camp to make new friends and learn new crafts. Although that can be fun for most children, for those who are dealing with parents in the process of divorce, there can be an added complication taking place behind the scenes: who is going to pay for the trip.
Either parent or both can pay for camp so long as the two agree to that arrangement either at the time or as part of the divorce settlement. If the two former spouses have a positive and cordial relationship, it should be easy for the two to negotiate a payment plan. If the two do not have a positive working relationship and nothing was discussed previously, it might come down to a judge making the decision for the couple.
When a situation arises that calls for a re-negotiation of a divorce settlement or the addition of a new provision, a spouse should bring in an experienced divorce lawyer who knows the legal steps to amend a settlement.
Which Parent Decides if the Child Goes to Summer Camp?
The responsibility of the child falls to both parents after a divorce as outlined in the couple’s parenting plan. The plan outlines several decisions regarding the child, including medical care, education, and religion. It is in this plan where the couple should lay out the provision for the child’s summer as part of the arrangement for education. If they fail to do so, they might have to re-visit the plan.
As for where the child will reside, Alabama wants the minor child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the divorce. The arrangement pertaining to where the child will live full time can be determined by the parenting plan.
In Alabama, the child custody arrangement is divided into two parts: the residence and the visitation. Even if the child spends equal time with both parents, one must be assigned as the residence for purposes of determining school district and other residency requirements. The only restriction for this parent is they must remain within a 60-mile radius of the other parent. They cannot move out of that range without the consent of both parents. They can move within that 60-mile range whenever they wish.
Alabama law encourages the parents to work together and incorporate flexibility into their parenting plan. The schedule for visitation should be woven into that plan and include holidays, vacations, and summer camp.
What are My Options for Negotiating Camp Tuition?
The parenting plan is designed to be a blueprint for how the parents will raise their children going forward. It should lay out the plan that will cover the child’s education and who will cover various expenses. If summer camp is an activity the child enjoys or they anticipate it as an option, the parents should include that in their plan with details on who will pay for it.
However, not every scenario can be anticipated, nor can every circumstance be foreseen. A child could be very young when the divorce happens, or a parent’s employment situation could change. There is also the possibility that in all the negotiating for everything else, the thought of summer camp slipped everyone’s mind.
In those instances, the best opportunity is for the couple to informally sit down and negotiate a plan to send their child to summer camp. This is the easiest and least controversial. It does not have to involve the court system or any other formal situation. This works best if the couple maintained an open and working relationship for the benefit of their child.
How Do I Deal with an Uncooperative Spouse?
There will be instances when the couple has failed to anticipate summer camp as part of their parenting plan, and they may not have the most cordial relationship. Speaking directly to the former spouse should be the first option; however, if that fails, a parent can take the other to court to compel them to assist in the tuition.
A parent can seek increased child support payments for the months that the child will be in summer camp. This strategy is most successful when the parent sending their child to camp can argue that it is a necessary or work-related expense. In other words, they need to send the child to camp because they are working, and sending the child to camp is in the best interest of the child.
In addition, if a parent is paying their regular child support payments and elects to pay for the tuition, they can seek a temporary pause to the child care payments from the court while they are paying the tuition. However, they should not stop making those child payments on their own without the consent of the court, or risk a contempt charge. That charge could carry serious punishments, including jail time, and have an adverse impact on future contact with the child.
Finally, if a parent has decided, for whatever reason, that they are going to send their child to summer camp, they must notify the other parent. Regardless of whether the other parent will approve, they must be informed of the decision. Alabama courts do not look kindly on those parents who make these decisions without first consulting the other parent. Failing to inform the other parent ahead of time will lessen the chances of the court obtaining any additional compensation from the other parent for tuition.
When Should I Speak to My Ex-Spouse About Summer Camp?
Having the conversation with an ex-spouse about the prospect of summer camp should take place as soon as possible. A spouse will know the relationship they have with their ex-spouse and the likelihood of them agreeing to help pay for the tuition. The parent should be prepared to front the money for the tuition in case they have to wait for an obstinate ex-spouse or for the courts to render its decision on the matter. Regardless, the best interests of the child should be of paramount concern to both parents and the court.
Huntsville Divorce Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Ensure that Your Ex-Spouse Fulfills Their Financial Commitments
The specter of your divorce may always linger, especially when you are trying to make important decisions for your children. It can be difficult especially if your ex-spouse is failing to meet their financial obligations. If you are having a difficult time getting your ex-spouse to help with expenses, the Huntsville divorce lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. will work with you to find a legal solution to your problem. For a free consultation, call us at 256-539-3110 or 888-539-3110, or contact us online. Our Athens and Huntsville, Alabama, offices represent clients throughout North Alabama, including Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County.