Child Custody, Camps, and Camping

Look over at your couch. Now! What’s little Jimmy doing? Playing God of War III? Watching your Sex and the City box set? It doesn’t matter what he’s doing. He’s not out getting exercise.

It’s the middle of summer. We’ve got a few more weeks of crippling heat and waiting for school to resume (assuming there’s no strike). What better way to end the summer than to either go camping or, better yet, send Jimmy off to a camp and give yourself a staycation?

The only problem is, you and Jimmy’s dad broke up long ago. He’s got joint legal custody and visitation rights, so what do you have to do before you can either explore your inner-Cavewoman or force your kid to do it while you relax and watch SATC?

Camping

Let’s see. What are the odds of you wanting to spend more than a day or two without hot water, an actual bed, and the comfort of knowing that a bear is not going to eat your entrails while you sleep?

Yeah, that camping trip probably isn’t going to last more than the weekend. It’s best if you let the other parent know that you are leaving town for a day or two. But if you are only going on a short trip, during your custodial time, you probably aren’t legally required to inform your ex. This is doubly true if you aren’t leaving the state.

If you are leaving the state, or you are going to be gone for more than a day or two, the best way to avoid a nasty courtroom showdown or angry phone calls is to give the other parent an itinerary and contact information.

Summer Camp

You love little Jimmy, but sometimes a gal just needs some time off to catch up with Carrie Bradshaw and friends. We’ve all been there.

SHIP HIM OFF! No seriously, summer camps can be an important part of a child’s development, especially if the camp is related to a special skill, like Band Camp. Even if it’s just a general camp, those are great for your child’s social development.

However, it might not be as simple as simply packing him up and shipping him out. If you have joint legal custody, meaning you and the father of the child have to make joint decisions on such things as school, health care, and religion, you’ll have to discuss the camp with your ex first.

For example, the rumored reason behind the TomKat split was because Katie Holmes didn’t want her daughter Suri to get indoctrinated by Scientologists during a religious boat cruise. Now that they are divorced, if Tom Cruise wanted Suri to go cruisin’ with Scientologists, he’d have to get Katie’s approval first, or go fight it out in court.

If you have sole legal custody, you’ll probably still want to discuss the matter with the other parent to avoid conflicts and future animosity, especially if the camp will conflict with that parent’s visitation rights.

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Child Custody, Camps, and Camping