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Summer Camps – A guide for separated parents on avoiding conflict.

26th March 2018

Haroop Ahluwalia provides a guide for separated parents on avoiding conflict with some useful advice in the Elmbridge Lifestyle Magazine April issue.

Summer camps are becoming an increasingly popular way of entertaining your child during those long summer breaks, and for good reason. Your child will get 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 to occupy them. However for separated parents the mention of summer camps will 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.

Children

The most important point to remember, is that this is all for your child. Parenting is an inexact science, and opinions will always differ on what is ‘best for the child’. At the same time your child will have a personality of their own, but may not want to voice them to avoid adding to any perceived conflict between their parents. So make sure you talk to your child, ask them which camp they’d like to go to and why. Furthermore, whatever is decided, make sure that they know it is a decision supported by all of their parents. This way, your child will go to camp with a clear mind, free of any anxieties, and be able to enjoy it to its fullest extent.

Compromise

Following on from the point above, making sure that your child’s needs are put first will inevitably require a fair bit of compromise. This will come as no surprise to separated parents, but discrete issues such as summer camps sometimes have a habit of seeing parents taking very firm yes/no stances. For example, if your child has expressed a desire to go to a summer camp, this may mean reworking existing childcare arrangements because one parent will effectively be ‘losing’ that period of time.

Cost

There will be a cost to sending your child on these camps that may well not be covered by existing maintenance arrangements. Again, it’s 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 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.

Communication

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 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 like the subject has been sprung on 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 outside of England & Wales, all persons with parental responsibility of the child will need to give consent to the trip. Now if the points 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 decisions, it is absolutely essential that their consent to a trip abroad is obtained.
And as a last resort there is the…

Court

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 Ahluwalia is a Solicitor in the Family Department at Mundays LLP and can be contacted on 01932 590502 or by email at haroop.ahluwalia@mundays.co.uk  

The contents of this update are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this update. © Mundays LLP 2018.

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