Halloween Doesn’t Have To Be Scary For Divorced Parents

kid in Batman costume

San Diego, Calif., October 16, 2017 – When I was a little girl, Halloween didn’t seem to be such a big deal. It was fun to dress up and go visit a few neighbors for trick or treat. Today, Halloween is a greatly anticipate holiday for kids and for their parents, too. It’s the start of an extended holiday season ending with New Year’s Day.

Halloween now gets included with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other year-end celebrations on the list of occasions divorce parents have to negotiate with each other. Divorced parents usually anticipate the discussion about who gets the kids for Thanksgiving dinner, and where they are going to open Christmas presents.

But they aren’t prepared for arguments over where the kids are going trick or treating, and even the type of costumes the kids are allowed to wear. Halloween often gets overlooked in custody agreements. Next thing you know, you’re discussing co-parenting issues, and perhaps negotiating your own expectations for enjoying Halloween which are in conflict with your ex-spouse and kids’ plans.

Consider this a piece of free advice if you are still negotiating your parenting plan during a divorce. But if you need to negotiate Halloween for the first time, here are a few tips to make it easier and avoid any horror stories.

Just as with Thanksgiving and Christmas, this is about your kids. Not you. Especially if the divorce is still new and raw, trying to cooperate in a joint Halloween celebration is the best solution. Your children may already have a Halloween routine in their familiar neighborhood they love. If so, try to keep this ritual stable for them, at least for now.

But please, do not invite the new boyfriend or girlfriend to tag along. Please don’t use the contact between you as an opportunity to discuss your finances or argue over past hurts.

If this isn’t feasible, you’ll need to be flexible about the time and place for celebrating Halloween with your kids. Fortunately for you, Halloween has become a month-long holiday. There should be many events on the weekends leading up to October 31. You can start by carving pumpkins or visiting a pumpkin patch early in the month. Pick a time to go see an age-appropriate scary movie or having a Halloween movie night with a few of your kids’ friends at home. Let your kids dress up where feasible before Halloween. It won’t matter to your little ghosts and goblins when they celebrate with you if there are multiple opportunities to enjoy Halloween with both parents.

If you don’t agree as parents about the types of costumes your kids are allowed to wear, or how much candy they can collect and eat, have these discussions long before Halloween and away from your kids. Get these issues settled between you first, then present a united front to your kids no matter what you decide. The only wrong decision is one you’re still arguing about. It can be difficult, but working with your co-parent is always what’s best for your children. Get help from a therapist or divorce coach if you can’t come to an agreement – yes, even if it’s over Halloween costumes. This can be important to your kids.

As your kids get older, they’ll have different ideas about how they want to celebrate Halloween. You should give them more say and more responsibility over the years, within reason. This could affect your parenting agreement and custody schedule. Learn to be flexible. Call upon your family law attorney if you need to adjust your original agreement or schedule to suit your family’s needs.

Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Visit her website at frfamilylaw.com Follow Myra on Facebook at FleischerLawOffice, and on Twitter: @LawyerMyra.

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