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How to Handle Halloween Visitation
The month of October marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday season. Halloween is the first of these holidays and is one that might easily be overlooked in a custody or visitation schedule because of its relative importance in contrast to Thanksgiving or Christmas. Many parents and children, however, view Halloween as an important holiday. If you are a newly divorced parent, the next 120 days are going to test your patience and communication skills with your ex-spouse. Halloween is an opportunity for a parent who is recently divorced or going through the divorce process to work to improve his or her relationship with both the other parent and their children.
Communication Is Key
With children under the age of 12, elementary schools generally have a lot of planned Halloween activities during and after school that your child will be attending. If you are in a joint custody schedule it is important to communicate with the other parent with regards to any upcoming school functions and emails that you receive from the teacher. There is nothing more embarrassing for your child than when he or she goes to class empty-handed, especially when the classroom has a planned activity. Send an email, voice mail or have face-to-face communication to let each other know how important it is not to let your child feel different about having two households. Often your child’s backpack is not checked for fliers from school. Keep an eye on what your child brings home starting with this holiday.
Most schools have dress codes that are enforced on Halloween and some have even banned dressing up all together on Halloween. Many schools have nixed the traditional costume march because of the nature of some of the costumes: some are too violent or too provocative. As a co-parent, both parents need to unite and be good examples of what is acceptable. One parent allowing his or her child to wear an inappropriate costume will only cause more friction between spouses and can set a bad parenting example with lasting effects.
Splitting Time Trick or Treating
Most divorce decrees do not address the custody schedule on Halloween, so it is up to the parents to decide what is best. Always keep the child's best interests in mind rather than your own. Make agreements with your ex-spouse prior to Halloween to avoid conflict closer to the actual day of Halloween and be sensitive to your child’s wishes with regard to the holiday. If your child wants to trick or treat with neighbors and familiar faces, by all means make that a priority. If your ex-spouse is residing in that neighborhood, make it a point to stay classy and offer the opportunity to walk with your child together or separately. Your child will thank you in the long run (kids remember everything). If you are sharing the experience together, don't bring a boyfriend or girlfriend, and don't talk about money or other disagreements.
Look at that number above and think about it for a moment. 182 days is all the time you get to spend with your child under an equal custody and visitation schedule in a calendar year. That means you only get to see so many birthdays and holidays together with your child. You need to take advantage of this time and make your memories count. The best way to stretch a few more precious days on your joint custody calendar is to create a positive and amicable relationship with your ex-spouse. A great co-parenting relationship will make this holiday season better for everyone.
If you have questions about child custody issues, contact The Law Office of Matthew J. Rudy for a free 1 hour consultation today.