When divorcing parents draw up a child custody agreement, Halloween is usually not on the list of holidays. Not having a formal agreement in place can complicate things, but being cooperative with your ex for the sake of your children can help turn this tricky night into a treat for all. Use these tips to make your post-divorce Halloween a little less frightening.
1. Designate a “Trick or Treat” Route
To avoid confusion and possible conflict on Halloween day, sit down with your ex and designate a “trick or treat” route ahead of time. The route doesn’t have to be overly formal, but the two of you should have an idea of where the child will be trick or treating and when.
If the two of you can be civil, consider sharing the holiday and both of you taking the child together.
If a shared arrangement will not work for you and your ex, consider splitting the evening, or coming to an agreement on who will take the kids around.
2. Avoid Turning Halloween into a Frightening Holiday
Halloween may be a spooky holiday, but those “frights” are all in the name of good fun. Make sure this holiday doesn’t turn into a truly frightening one for your child by remaining civil and cooperative with your ex. Fighting, bickering and name-calling can turn an otherwise fun and memorable evening into one that your child fears every year.
For just one day, put the past grudges, anger and emotions aside to make your child’s evening pleasant. If you can muster up the courage, try to have fun.
If you are unable to share the holiday by taking the kids trick or treating together, you can spend Halloween together in other ways. If the kids will be trick or treating with just one parent, for example, the other parent may be in charge of costume shopping and getting the kids ready.
3. Communicate with Your Ex
Communication is the key to a peaceful, fun evening of trick or treating. In addition to creating a plan for trick or treating, it is important to discuss any other issues that may come up that evening.
- Who will be driving the kids where and when?
- What time will trick or treating start and end?
- Are the kids going anywhere afterward?
- Who will take the kids costume shopping?
These issues are just a few of the many that should be sorted out before Halloween. While you will not able to plan for every last possible detail, having a plan or agreement in place for the most important things will help make the evening as smooth as possible.
If things do not go according to plan, stay in communication with your ex and do your best to be understanding and cooperative.
4. Ask the Children for Input
When making plans for the holiday, ask the kids for input.
- Where do they want to trick or treat?
- Which friends would they like to trick or treat with?
- Is there something special they want to do?
Whenever possible and practical, try to honor these requests. Most kids want to go trick-or-treating with friends, particularly if the two of you are recently divorced. Allowing them that time with friends is important.
5. Put Safety First
It should go without saying that safety is of the utmost importance on Halloween, and is another good reason to ensure that both parents know where and when the kids will be trick or treating.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Trick-or-treating in larger groups can add an extra layer of safety.
- Make sure that you and the children have cell phones, so you can communicate if you get separated.
- Make sure the kids have flashlights or a glow sticks, so they can be seen by vehicles and other people passing by.
- Stay in populated areas, and only visit the homes of people you know.
6. Remember – It’s All About the Kids
Halloween is a unique holiday because it truly is all about the kids. Do your best to make it all about them for just one night (within reason).
Most kids will feel comfortable trick or treating wherever their friends are going, which is typically the neighborhood where they live. If the kids have no interest in trick-or-treating in the non-custodial parent’s neighborhood, it may not be wise to force them to. It may be best to allow them to spend this time with you (the parents) and their friends.
Adding to that point, if other relatives want to see the kids all dressed up, have them come to the child or take photos. Try to avoid dragging the kids all over the place. Again, it’s all about them, so let them have fun.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has a special expertise in working with child custody. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Child Custody & Support blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.