Co-Parenting After The Breakup: Tricks to Make Halloween More of a Treat for Your Kids and You

Before you choose a Halloween strategy for your family, be realistic about how your ex and you behave after the divorce or breakup.

Here’s advice about how to strategize for Halloween, based on your family and co-parenting style.

A. What type of Co-Parents Are You?
On a scale from 1-5 with 1 being “We are besties dressing as conjoined twins this Halloween” and 5 being “We have a protection order and do parenting exchanges with armed guards,” where are you?

B. How into Halloween is your family?
On a scale from 1-5 with 1 being “Oct. 31 rules — we named our kids Pumpkin and Spice” and 5 being “Yawn, Hallowhat?” where are you?

C. How do your Halloween priorities jive?
On a scale from 1-5 with 1 being “as alike as the Grady Twins in ‘The Shining’ ” and 5 being “as different as Darth and Yoda,” where are you?

OK, so if you are on the 1 side of everything, this is pretty easy. Throw a big party together; trick-or-treat together. It’s all good. I am not even sure why you are reading this blog actually. Congratulations on your maturity and overall amazingness to the envy of all us mere mortals. Do I sound jealous? Because I am. But seriously, have fun! Your kids and you really deserve it!

Co-parenting at Halloween

If you are on A-1, great at co-parenting, and C-5, not on the same page about Halloween, your plan MAY be easy depending no WHY you differ when it comes to Halloween.

If one is a Halloweenie and one is indifferent, simply hand over the broomstick, kids and cauldron to Halloween parent. The non-celebrant can Netflix and chill, keeping the lights down to ward off pesky trick-or-treaters.

On the other hand, if one of you is running a séance and the other disapproves on religious grounds, thinking this holiday is the devil’s mischief, you may have a huge problem. I suggest you agree to let the parent who has the holiday with the kids that year run the show. Religion is an area where there is always joint decision-making, allowing the parent exercising time to practice his or her beliefs. Ideally, you already covered this in a parenting plan because this is a big deal on Elm Street. If not, please respect the other parent’s traditions while instilling your own on your time. That is what the law requires.

If you are in the 3 area — pretty much middle of the spectrum — when it comes to co-parenting on Halloween, join the club of most divorced parents. (By the way, if you want to throw up every time you read a blog telling you to trick-or-treat together with your ex, this might be you.) Take solace in the fact that half the parents out there trick-or-treating are also divorced or on their way there. You are not the only one.

Great ideas for normals likes us are to trade off the holiday each year; pass off the kids at an agreed upon destination for double trick-or-treating outings that night; or agree on two events (like one parent doing trunk-or-treat the day before and another doing the actual holiday night’s events.)

Father carving pumpkin with son

You have to get creative and share, remembering that YOU ARE THE GROWN UPS, so you have to FOCUS ON THE KIDS. Do not quarrel, do not drink too much, do not sneer or grouse. That makes you into the villain in this holiday adventure. And subject-of-your-child’s-future-therapy-sessions is just not a good look on you, even when you cover it up with your snazzy new superhero costume from Amazon.

If you are home alone for the holiday, do NOT stew and brew. Make plans with friends, hand out treats to those cute kids or — the old standby — volunteer. Hard as it is to believe, helping others does make you feel better. So do good but do it for a selfish reason — so YOU feel better. Still works!

Now what if you are an A-5 (high conflict), B-1 (high on Halloween), C-5 (so NOT on the same page)? If so, I am guessing that Halloween is only one of your many co-parenting problems.

For those with high Halloween conflict, just remember that the greatest minds in the legal industry went to law school specifically so they could hold emergency hearings in late October to resolve parenting squabbles over a children’s holiday. In case you didn’t pick up on it, that was a trick. No judge wants to put out that fire at the last minute. You have to co-parent this one even as miserable as that may be.

Here are some pointers for you:

  • Plan ahead
  • Get things in writing
  • Get creative by splitting the day and handling multiple events.
  • Family therapy, a parenting coordinator, a high-conflict parenting class or even a free consult with our office may be in order.

In the future, your kids will remember above all how Halloween made them feel. So maybe put a limit on the candy dose while you’re at it.

In summary, when all else fails, dress up like Olaf and Elsa and “Let it Go!” It’s only one, long, god-forsaken, haunted night.

And the next day, Nov. 1, is All Saint’s Day. A saint — that is what you are when you go out trick-or-treating in 10-degree weather, grit your teeth, and grin and bear it like a jack-o’-lantern when you pass the kids off to your former spouse in your former car on the way to your former house, pretending like this is great fun, and doing all this just so those kids have a good time. It’s what the law requires in C.R.S. Section 14-10-124 (1.5)(XI) (best interests of the child analysis includes examining the ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs).

If you need help with a parenting plan that will work best for your family, or have questions on other family law issues, contact Andersen Law PC at 720-922-3880 or beth@andersenlawpc.com for a free consult today.