Trick or Treat: How to Navigate the Halloween Parenting Schedule for Divorced Parents

Years ago, when I first started my divorce mediation practice, I was blown away by how passionate many parents are about Halloween. I found that many couples had no issue whatsoever with alternating weeks or days, and alternating holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But when the conversation turned to Halloween, things got…scary.

Halloween is a fun holiday that ends with the kids bringing home a bag full of candy. And because the holiday is all about the kids, it is understandable that parents would want to be a part of it each year. The Halloween schedule does not need to become a center of conflict, however. If parents remember that it is truly about the kids, they can find a way to work out an acceptable arrangement.
There are several potential ways to handle the Halloween parenting schedule in a way that will satisfy all parties. Here are some that I have seen work:

Go Trick or Treating Together with your Ex

Parents will often agree to go trick or treating together so everyone can enjoy it. If you and your ex are comfortable enough to stroll through the neighborhood with your kids, this is a great compromise that benefits everyone. Going together shows that the two of you are able to put aside your personal differences for your child’s benefit, and it sends a strong and comforting message to the child that, despite the divorce, you can still have fun together as a family.

Split the Trick or Treating

So maybe option one puts you a little too up close and personal with your ex, and you need alternate way to handle Halloween. This is totally understandable, and there are other solutions that can work. How about treating your child to a night of double the fun? Your kids can start with you in your neighborhood, then you can hand them off to your ex a couple hours later, or vice versa. This way, you both get to enjoy the holiday with your children, but at the same time, you can still maintain a healthy distance. And as for the kids, what child would turn down two bags full of candy at the end of the night?

Make Halloween into a Two-Day Holiday

So maybe you live on opposite ends of town or just don’t want to share Halloween in any way with your ex. There is a third option that can often work in these instances; make it a two-day affair. For example, on October 30, the kid(s) can go to your ex’s house to carve pumpkins, decorate the house, and try on their costume. Then on October 31, they can come to your house for trick-or-treating. The next year, you can switch roles. This solution again allows both parents to participate in Halloween while maintaining their space, and it gives your kids another night to enjoy the holiday.

One final word of advice. It is important to work together to give your children the opportunity to enjoy Halloween with both of you. Do NOT ask them who they would rather spend the night with; children do not need (or want) the pressure of having to choose between their two parents. Start with the assumption that, in a perfect world, your kids would want to trick-or-treat together with both of you at the same time. Then go from there.

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