Depending on the procedural posture of your case, there may or may not be an order that designates holidays to one parent or the other. If there is a court order in place, there tends to be less acrimony during the holidays and expectations are clearer. However, even though it may only be one parent’s “holiday” with the minor children, usually both parents like to see the kids in their costumes. The following are some helpful tips.
1. Review your parenting plan.
Some parenting plans designate Halloween as a holiday and award it to one parent per year. Ensure that you check your plan to see if there is a Halloween provision. If there is, keep in mind that you are bound to follow the plan, unless you and the other parent agree otherwise. If the Halloween provision already in place makes sense, there may be no need for you to communicate with the other parent about changing Halloween plans. If, on the other hand, Halloween was overlooked in your plan, it is best to get in touch with the other parent to discuss a possible alternation. If Halloween was not included in the holiday schedule, it generally just falls under regular parenting time. If you and the other parent are fairly amicable, it is possible to split the day as follows: 3:00pm-5:00pm Trick-or-Treating with Parent 1 and 5:00pm-7:00pm Trick-or-Treating with Parent 2. If there is anger between you and the other parent, it is best to allow the other parent to see the kid(s) on their regular parenting time, but perhaps with the kid(s) in Halloween costume.
Remember, you can’t change a parenting plan without the other parent’s agreement or the court’s consent. Do not unilaterally make a change to the plan without consulting with the other parent.
2. Do not put your children in the middle.
As with any parenting dispute, it is imperative not to put the child in the middle. Make the decision as parents and do not force the child to take a side. It is best not to ask the child “do you want to spend Halloween with me?”
3. Plan ahead.
Make sure you have tackled a holiday issue before it hits you head-on. Do not wait until October 29th to ask the other parent for time on a Halloween. Planning ahead allows you to prepare your children for the upcoming holiday and to manage their expectations in advance. Children need to know what to expect in the coming days, weeks, and even months, depending on their age. By preparing them for Halloween in advance, you decrease the chances of Halloween horror.