Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Turner Thornton
Halloween can be a spooktacular holiday, marked by trick-or-treating, haunted houses, and pumpkin-themed parties. For many kids, it’s a magical night filled with costumes, candy, and cherished childhood memories. However, for separated or divorced parents, Halloween is often more complicated than trying to decide between a witch’s hat or a superhero cape. The question haunting many parents is, “Who gets the kids?”
A Spooky Oversight in the Standard Possession Order?
Child visitation can be one of the most contentious issues in divorce and custody cases. That’s why the Texas legislature created a visitation schedule – called the Standard Possession Order (SPO) – for parents to follow if they can’t come to a mutual agreement on possession times and days.
The only problem is that Halloween is not included in Texas’ Standard Possession Order. You would think every holiday – especially ones as child-centric as Halloween – would have a clear provision in custody agreements but, unfortunately, Halloween visitation is not addressed in the SPO. This lack of clarity is partly because Halloween doesn’t fall on a fixed day like Christmas or Thanksgiving — it can be on a weekday, a weekend, or even intersect with other scheduled visitation periods.
So, what happens when October 31 rolls around, and both parents want to take their little ghouls out for a night of trick-or-treating?
All Hallow’s Eve Compromises
Unless you and your ex have a custom custody agreement that addresses Halloween, the parent who would normally have the child on that specific day or night would be the one to have the child for Halloween. So, in 2023, Halloween falls on a Tuesday during the last week of the month. If this is the day that you usually have visitation, then you’re in luck! You should have your little witch or wizard on Halloween. However, this means that the other parent might miss out on sharing this fun holiday with their child.
That brings us to our next point: finding a middle ground for Halloween visitation.
Fortunately, there are some ways to compromise and create an arrangement that won’t leave anyone ghosted. Halloween is all about sharing treats, and when it comes to parenting, perhaps it’s time to carve out a new tradition that ensures both parents get a slice of the pumpkin pie.
Below, the family law attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group offer some tips for peacefully navigating Halloween visitation in Texas.
Tips for Treating Your Kids to a Happy Halloween
Navigating Halloween as a split family doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a sprinkle of communication and a dash of compromise, you can conjure up a Halloween experience that’s magical for your kids. Read on for some spellbinding strategies:
Communication is Key
Before any skeletons come out of the closet, talk with your ex-partner. Open a dialogue about Halloween visitation plans well in advance to avoid any sudden scares. Early dialogue provides ample time for both parties to voice their desires, concerns, and boundaries. Waiting until the last minute can escalate tensions, leading to hasty decisions that might not suit everyone involved.
Further, by discussing plans in advance, there’s an opportunity to sync calendars, align on traditions, or even discuss costume ideas. A pre-emptive discussion can also provide time to involve other family members, like grandparents or siblings, in the planning process.
Compromise if You Can
Remember, it’s about the kids. Maybe one parent handles the costume shopping and the other manages the trick-or-treating. Splitting responsibilities can often lead to shared joy. This division of duties offers children a balanced experience. They get to build and cherish distinct memories with both parents, reinforcing the idea that, despite changes in family dynamics, both parents remain integral to their lives.
Just as you might alternate other holidays, consider letting one parent have the kids for Halloween one year, and the other the next. This way, both parents experience Halloween fun with their children.
Double the Fun
Who said you can only celebrate on the 31st? Consider having two Halloweens — a pre-Halloween party or trick-or-treat event in one home, and then the official Halloween night in the other. Also, Halloween events and fall festivals span the whole month of October, providing ample opportunity to celebrate with your child on days other than Halloween. That way, no one is “missing out.”
Stay Witchy, Not Bitchy
Emotions can run high, but keep the spirit of Halloween alive. It’s about fun, not conflict. Prioritize your child’s happiness over personal disputes. Don’t let Halloween visitation disputes ruin the magic of the season for your little one. Keep the pumpkins glowing, the costumes dazzling, and the candy flowing, ensuring that the memories made are of laughter and joy, not of disagreements and discord.
Document Any Agreements
If you’ve made special arrangements for Halloween visitation, make sure to write it down, even if it’s informal. This can be a useful reference for future years. Not only does it solidify the agreement between both parties, it minimizes misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Having it in black and white ensures clarity and can significantly deter potential disputes.
Additionally, as the years ebb and flow, memories might become hazy. What was agreed upon one year might be remembered differently the next. By documenting your special arrangement, you create a consistent reference point, providing an easy-to-follow blueprint for future Halloweens.
Involve the Little Monsters
Depending on their age, involve your kids in the discussion. Knowing their preferences can guide a solution that’s best for everyone. They might have particular Halloween traditions they cherish, friends they want to trick-or-treat with, or even specific fears and concerns that parents might not be immediately aware of. Parents can gauge these feelings and integrate them into the decision-making process by opening a dialogue.
Remember, Halloween is not just about the costumes or the candy. It’s about creating lasting memories for your child. By showing them that even separated parents can come together for their sake, you’re teaching them a lesson more valuable than any treat in their Halloween bag.
Other Holiday Visitation Schedules
Halloween unofficially kicks off the holiday season. Thanksgiving will be here in just a few weeks, followed by Christmas. Fortunately, the visitation schedule for both of those major holidays is set out in Texas’ Standard Possession Order. Senior Associate Attorney Kristen Carr explains the holiday visitation schedule for each major holiday in this important video.
Printable Version: 2023 Standard Possession Calendar
Dispute Over Holiday or Halloween Visitation? Contact Us.
If you need help resolving a conflict over visitation, child custody, or any family law matter, it’s important to speak with an experienced child custody attorney. The team at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group understands there is nothing more important than your children. We will explain your legal options and help you protect your parental rights and access to your children. We have expertise in handling high-conflict custody and visitation disagreements. Call 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation with an experienced child visitation lawyer today.