Is Summer Camp Included in Child Support?
There is no doubt about it: divorce can be messy. In particular, the battle over child support can bring both unforeseen financial difficulty and emotional hardship. Seldom does a divorce work out more favorably in a financial sense for one or both parties than when the situation was two parents, one household.
Too often in a divorce, both parents are thrown into a difficult predicament. When parents go through divorce, the cost of supporting a child grows, even though the child’s time is divided between two households instead of one. With both parents now having to flip the bill for the primary expenses like rent or mortgage payments and utilities, the secondary expenses can become almost unbearable, if not impossible.
One of the most frequently asked questions concerning child support is daycare. For some parents, daycare is a must. The custodial parent, for instance, might not be able to go to work without it, or maybe the custodial parent feels that it is best for the child, negating other alternatives. Nevertheless, Summer Camp brings up a unique issue.
Like daycare, summer camps can vary in cost. Unlike daycare, summer camps can run the gamut of affordability, ranging from low and affordable to extremely high and unaffordable. For parents with limited incomes, flipping the bill for an expensive summer camp could be catastrophic.
The New Jersey family court system has its rules, but as with most other legal matters, much depends on certain variables. In regard to including the cost of summer camp in child support payments, whether or not it is a necessity may be as important as the income of the parents. Thus, it is worth considering all the variables.
What Should You Do When the Idea of Summer Camp Becomes a Dispute?
Before getting to the point of frustration and running back to your attorney, consider working things out with the other parent. Whether you are in the process of divorce or summer camp was not mentioned in your divorce agreement, working things out amongst yourselves is always the best solution.
Involving your attorney could add to the cost, and having to go back to court is even more time consuming and expensive. Moreover, considering the needs of your child is what is most important, albeit the cost is sometimes difficult to bear.
Assess your finances, and figure out if summer camp is affordable for you. Consider how going to summer camp benefits your child, and what camp is the best fit. Also consider what camp gives you the best value for your dollar. Be reasonable when discussing the matter. Your attorney will most likely suggest that you iron it out with the other parent before entering it as a legal matter.
How Do New Jersey Courts Figure Out Child Support Payments?
New Jersey courts calculate the amount of child support using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, which is used when a combined net income is less than $187,200 per year. When the combined net income is above that amount, the court will do a complete analysis that is fact-based, but the needs of the child will be a priority.
The basic child allocation support amount that the court comes up with considers the total income of each parent. Then it adjusts according to other factors, the main one being the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
Much depends on whether the divorce is a shared parenting or sole parenting arrangement. The more time that a child spends with one parent, the more expenses that parent will have. The court uses a specific worksheet for both scenarios.
A sole parenting calculation is used when the child has no more than two overnight visits each week with the noncustodial parent. A shared parenting calculation is used when the child has more than two overnight visits with each parent. Thus, four nights with one parent and three with the other will constitute a shared parent calculation, usually based on a co-parenting arrangement.
In each scenario, adjustments will also be made for the variable expenses that each parent has while the child is visiting. This can often become the most difficult part of any agreement, as expenses according to one parent might be considered unnecessary according to the other.
The sole parenting calculation includes an adjustment for the noncustodial parent’s variable expenses during visitation periods. The shared parenting calculation will include both fixed and variable expenses.
It is important to distinguish the different types of expenses when considering child support. Fixed expenses are the most basic; they include rent, mortgage, and utility payments. Controlled expenses are the cost of different items, like clothing, personal care products, and entertainment. Variable expenses are expenditures that a parent has while caring for the child; they include food, transportation, and other various expenses.
How Do New Jersey Courts Address Summer Camp in a Divorce Agreement?
New Jersey courts consider work-related summer camp a necessity. As long as it is used as a daycare facility when the parent is at work, summer camp can be worked into the child support agreement according to the child support guidelines previously mentioned.
If it is a necessity, both parents are responsible for the cost. Thus, the cost of summer camp will most likely be divided between the parents according to what has been determined in the overall finding using the guidelines. Before this determination is made, however, the court is going to want to know a few other things.
The affordability of the parties involved play a key factor. In other words, if both incomes are small, the court will factor those incomes into its decision. Another consideration is the past childcare arrangements. If the custodial parent suddenly decides that an exceptionally expensive summer camp is what the child in question needs, the court may deem it as unnecessary.
Day camps and sleepaway camps are two different matters. A day camp may qualify as a necessary daycare facility. On the other hand, a sleepaway camp is viewed more like a luxury and could easily be denied by the court, especially if the income of each parent is small. Although exceptions are sometimes made, the standard rule is that sleepover camps with low combined incomes are out of the question.
Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Help Clients in Child Support Disputes.
If you are going through a divorce and need a competent lawyer, our Marlton divorce lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. will help you weather the storm. Call us at 856-890-9400 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.