Halloween doesn’t have to be a nightmare for separated parents

With Halloween often falling on or around the first half term of the school year, this is usually the first break parents and children enjoy after the summer holidays. A bit of trick or treating can be ideal for letting children blow off some steam. However, for parents that are separated, who has the children over half term can be a thorny issue. If your plans do not account for Halloween, it is important to discuss this with your ex-partner and avoid keeping your children out of the crossfire. There is no simple formula or equation to decide who has the children, and no answer that is clearly right or wrong.

The law takes a child focussed approach, asking what is in the child’s best interests. In the absence of any safeguarding concerns (e.g. drug or alcohol abuse), the starting point is to assume a child is always better off having quality time with both parents.

In these circumstances, separated parents should be asking what is practical and what is possible over half term. It is all well and good agreeing that the kids can spend time with both parents, but it is important to appreciate what both parents can actually do to accommodate their child’s commitments, as well as their own; if one parent is away on business then naturally they are not going to be able to spend as much time with their children as they may like.

It can be especially hard when discussing a holiday or event that the children have been looking forward to, such as Halloween. It is difficult to divide a single day between parents, let alone an evening, without sucking the fun out of it. It’s in these situations where the law will put the child’s interests first.

Splitting a day between two parents isn’t very practical, so the alternative is to alternate that day between both parents on a year to year basis. Yes, this means one parent will wait a whole year until they get to take their child out trick or treating. Looking at the issue with a child focussed approach however, can offer a different perspective. Your child will enjoy Halloween (and all the candy that follows!) with one parent, and while you may need to wait a year for your turn, it is only one of many occasions in your child’s life that you’ll have to spend with them.

Sometimes, a parent can struggle to get their head around what is possible and practical, or they might not even fully understand why their child should have a relationship with both parents. It’s therefore not always possible to come to an amicable agreement regarding half term, Halloween or a host of other arrangements. In these cases, it may be necessary to consider other options – such as mediation or court. A court application can seem like a daunting prospect but it’s important to appreciate that it will at least ensure that the law is applied, ensuring a child focused approach is taken where your child’s best interests are paramount.

For more information or advice about making a court application, spending time with your children, or other family issues, please contact Sahil Aggarwal on tel: 020 8332 8675 or email: sahil.aggarwal@mooreblatch.com