Four hours and six minutes.

That’s how long it took one of my girls to start whining “I’m soooooo…. bored” after getting out of school on the last school day of the year.

I will point out that during those four hours and six minutes, we went to a pancake brunch and watched a movie she has been begging to see for a long time.

So it really only took her six minutes to get bored.

Thankfully, after a few hours of wallowing in her boredom, she remembered her massive collection/hoard of L.O.L. Surprise Dolls and was able to “unbore” herself. I’m not sure how she missed it, their accessories seem to be everywhere in our house.

Before you embark on a summer spent being your kids’ personal cruise director, here are five important legal issues you should tackle.


The summer job is a rite of passage for the American teenager. Whether they are bussing tables or lifeguarding at the neighborhood pool, a summer job is a great way to earn a little extra spending money and learn good old-fashioned work ethic.

Before your teen hits the job market, be sure you and your child are prepared legally.

Does your teen need to file a tax return? Yes, if she earns more than $12,000, but should anyway if she is entitled to a refund. How do labor laws impact what jobs your teen can and cannot do? For example, teenagers are prohibited from delivering pizza if they would have to drive a car. What would your child do if she is harassed on the job? Would she freeze up and say nothing or take appropriate action?

For the answers to these questions, check out Teens and Summer Jobs-Legal Issues to Consider.

In addition to working, summertime is also about having fun.

Does your teen know how little they would have to do (accidentally or on purpose) to get into serious trouble with the law? Trouble that could impact their ability to get into college or certain jobs?

For example, in Texas, one sip of alcohol is enough to get anyone under the age of 21 a $500 fine and a 60-day license suspension. Your son is boating with friends and one of his buddies slips a single beer into the ice chest? Class C ticket with a fine of $500 and he loses his drivers license.

And while at 17 you may still see a pediatrician and wear superhero pajamas, the criminal justice system in Texas views you as an adult and will charge, try, and punish you as one.


Before you pack up your kids and move your everyday chores (cooking, cleaning, laundry, childcare) to the beach, make sure you have a general estate plan in place. If you haven’t gotten around to doing your will, there is no time like you-are-about-to-go-out-of-town.

Your will should include a choice of guardian for your children. In Texas, you can also execute a Designation of Guardian separate from your will. So if you are really pressed for time, at least execute a Designation of Guardian.

Is your spouse planning on taking your kids on a trip without you this summer? Make sure your spouse has the proper documentation to travel alone with your kids before he leaves. For more information on what that list might include, check out Required Documents for Children Traveling With One Parent.

Summer Camps

I swear the documentation you need to fill out for summer camps gets longer and longer every year.

Blame the lawyers.

You might be tempted to just skim over the legalese. Don’t. Take the time to read the contract carefully, in particular, the cancellation policy (always assume the camp will enforce it no matter how legitimate your cancellation reason is) and the liability waiver and release (it could prevent you from suing the camp in the event something goes wrong and your child is injured).

For more information on how you should parse through summer camp applications, check out Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! Legal Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe at Summer Camp.

Babysitters and Nannies

Hiring a babysitter or nanny to help out with the kids this summer? In addition to checking references and doing both a criminal and civil judgement background check, take the time to write a contract spelling out what his or her responsibilities will be and payments. You want your kids walking around art museums instead of the mall? Discuss that with your babysitter or nanny and put it in writing.

And while you are writing, don’t forget to let your accountant know that you have hired a nanny or babysitter so he can advise you on how to pay them properly for tax purposes. For more on babysitters and taxes, check out When Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Babysitter?.

Pool Parties

Do the neighborhood kids flock to your backyard pool the minute school is out for the summer? Make sure you have taken steps to protect children and others from being injured or accidentally drowning in your pool and have adequate insurance coverage for the financial and legal risks you have as a pool owner. For more information on what you should do, check out Ask the Law Mother: Should I Have Guests Who Use My Pool Sign a Liability Waiver and Release?.

If there was a summer camp just for moms, what would the activities be? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

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Copyright © 2018-2019 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.


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