Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Address Halloween in your child custody and parenting plan

Halloween is approaching and that means tricks and treats for many little ghouls and goblins in Virginia. Whether your child is going trick-or-treating, to a trunk-or-treat event, or to a holiday party, Halloween is a special time for them. However, for children whose parents are divorced, this holiday can become more complex.

To ensure their child has a fun Halloween, divorced parents need to plan ahead regarding their holiday child custody schedule. Some parents will alternate years that they have their child in their care on Halloween. For example, the child may spend Halloween with one parent on even-numbered years and with the other parent on odd-numbered years. This may work well for parents who are not on good terms with one another and need separate time with the child.

If parents are on very good terms with one another and can co-parent effectively, they may try spending the Halloween as a family, despite their divorce. This allows the child to spend the holiday and its traditions the way they had in years past, as well as share new memories with both parents. Of course, if parents choose to do this, they must be on their best behavior, for the sake of the child.

Another option is for parents to split the holiday festivities. For example, the child might trick-or-treat for one hour with one parent, and then trick-or-treat with the other parent for another hour in the same neighborhood. This allows the child to remain in the environment they are accustomed to, and it allows them to share their Halloween experiences with each parent, albeit separately. However, this does take coordination on the part of the parents, who must make sure they follow the agreed-upon exchange. A similar strategy would be to have the child trick-or-treat twice -- once in one parent's neighborhood and a second time in the other parent's neighborhood.

As this shows, when executing a child custody order, parents will have to make decisions regarding holiday custody schedules, including Halloween. The arrangement they decide upon should be made with the best interests of the child in mind, as well as what their level of cooperation will permit. With some advanced planning, divorced parents can help their children have a spooky and festive Halloween.

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