Summer Camps are becoming an increasingly popular way of entertaining your children during these long summer breaks, and for good reason. In theory, your child will enjoy a week or two away from the sofa and their phones, and you can have a week or two without the constant worry of how you are going to occupy them. However, for separated parents, the mention of summer camps may naturally elicit some different concerns. This helpful, easy-to-remember guide will ensure that the only difficulties you’ll face will come when trying to convince your child to come home at the end of camp.
The most important point to remember is that any decision which is made should be in the best interests of your child. As we know, however, parenting is an inexact science and opinions will always differ on what is considered to be ‘best for the child’. Furthermore, every child is different and has a personality of their own, but they may not want to voice their opinions in order to avoid adding to any perceived conflict between their parents. Therefore, it is more important to ensure you talk through the options with your child and discuss which camp they’d like to go to and the reasons why. Furthermore, whatever decision is made, it is important to ensure that they know it is a decision supported by both of their parents. This way, your child will go to camp with a clear mind, free of any anxieties, and they should be able to enjoy it to its fullest extent.
Following on from the point above, making sure that your child’s needs are put first may inevitably required a fair bit of compromise by both parties. This will come as no surprise to separated parents used to negotiating time with their children, but issues such as summer camps can sometimes have a habit of making parents take very firm yes/no stances. For example, if your child has expressed a desire to go to summer camp, this may mean having to rework existing childcare arrangements because one parent will effectively be ‘losing’ that period of time.
There will be cost to sending your child on these camps that may well not be covered by existing maintenance arrangements. Again, it is important to avoid a scenario where the summer camp has to be changed or, even worse, cancelled because an agreement couldn’t be reached over who is to pay.
With camps abroad potentially costing upwards of £1,500 per child, before additional expenses such as clothes and any equipment are factored in, having a frank discussion about how the camp will be funded well in advance of it being booked, is a must. Also it is wise to remember that places on the more sought-after camps do fill up quickly, so this makes it even more important to have discussions about costs as early as possible.
As a general rule, parents like knowing where their child is going to be at any given time. Of course, when that child shares their time between two homes this isn’t always possible, so it is imperative that both parents are aware of the potential interest as soon as the subject of a summer camp is brought up. It is much harder to reach an agreement on subjects like cost and destination when one parent feels as if the subject has been spring upon them in some way, so open and clear lines of communication between the parents are key.
Consent (if the summer camp is abroad)
If the camp takes place out of England and Wales, all persons with parental responsibility of the child will need to give consent to the trip. If the suggestions above have been followed, all of the relevant parties involved will be aware of the trip. However, in instances where one parent (who has parental responsibility) is somewhat less involved in making these sorts of decision, it is absolutely essential that their consent to a trip abroad is obtained.
And as a last resort there is the…
In instances where an agreement really cannot be reached, for example where consent to a trip abroad is withheld or a parent objects to the child attending a particular camp, an application to the court will have to be made.
Court cases can be costly and almost inevitably leave a feeling of resentment between the parents , so an application should really only be made when all other avenues to a compromised agreement have been exhausted.
Haroop is a solicitor in the family law department at Mundays Solictors. He works on a wide variety of matters and is adept at dealing with financial, children and cohabitation cases. Whilst he has a strong technical skills, he feels that is main strength lies in being able to help clients achieve practical, proportionate and, moreover, cost effective outcomes.
Haroop can be contacted on 01932 590 502 or Haroop.firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in Elmbridge Magazine April 2018