The Summer season can truly be the best time of the year with the kids out of school, great weather, barbecues, pools, baseball and more. Divorced parents, however, often experience stress and conflict at a time when they really just want to sit back and unwind. For those parents, here are a few of the familiar issues that may arise and how to potentially address the situation based on your given case:
1. Camp – By now most parents have determined whether, and where the kids are going to camp, whether by agreement or court order. The last time I checked, sleep away camp is typically running upwards of $10,000 per Summer, per child, and this rite of passage for some kids can prove to be a major financial issue for discussion. Even day camps can run upwards of $6,000 per child, per year. A few years ago when faced with the issue of who was paying for camp and for how long the kids should go, I remember a trial judge asking when did kids stop going to the sandlot by themselves and not returning home until dinner. Probably around the same time they stopped riding bikes outside by themselves. Nevertheless, this is often an issue for a mediator to help settle and, if unsuccessful, for a judge to decide on a motion.
2. Parenting time and vacations – Agreements usually provide for what the parenting time schedule will be when the kids are home from school and not away at camp. I’ve been involved in cases where the parents literally negotiate not only each and every day to ensure that neither has more days than the other, but even who will be driving the kids back from sleep away camp. On the flip side, many arrangements are defined by flexibility. In the event of a dispute as to such issues, a parenting coordinator or mediation can facilitate a cost efficient and expedient resolution, as opposed to filing a motion in court that will cost thousands of dollars for each party and may not result in a decision until the Summer is almost over (if not already over).
3. Work-related child care – Child care issues seem to increase during the Summer, especially if the kids do not go to camp. The required child care time and cost may, as a result, substantially increase. Perhaps, during the Summer, a different kind of child care is necessary in a given case, such as an au pair or a nanny, as opposed to a before or after care program utilized during the school year. Maybe the au pair or nanny is needed for an increased number of hours. Agreements should provide for such a payment allocation and arrangement to avoid conflict in such situations, but many times a judge will ultimately be faced with an issue to decide regarding Summer work-related child care no matter what the agreement provides.
These are just a few of the issues that may arise during the Summer months. Ultimately the goal is to reach a resolution, if possible, but oftentimes a judge is called upon to make the final decision. Addressing these issues in a settlement agreement, to the extent that they can be addressed, may help you avoid the Summertime Blues and bask in the sunshine. If conflict “rains”, however, it is best to consult with experienced matrimonial counsel before it is too late and school is back in session.