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Margie Ellisor: And Halloween lurking around the corner, so who gets the kids? It’s a question many divorced parents deal with this time of year. Family law attorney Jonathan Marks with the Marks Law Firm is here this morning with some ways to help your children have a stress-free celebration. Good morning.
Jonathan Marks: Good morning, Margie.
ME: Yeah, so you know most holidays are in parenting plans, but Halloween isn’t in all of them.
JM: Yeah, it just depends. I mean, most of them today, you know, the parents are very cognizant of the fact that the kids love to trick-or-treat, especially when you have younger kids. So if, you know, when you’re getting divorced you’re entering into a custody situation, your kids are usually, you know, ten or less, you’re going to make sure that that holiday is included in the parenting plan in the same way you would with Christmas and Thanksgiving.
ME: Yeah, hopefully it’s not too late with this coming up Saturday, but plan ahead.
JM: That’d be the best way to look at it. I mean, it’s unfortunate, but a lot of times you, you know, life gets busy and you kind of wait till the last minute, but if the parents have the ability to think ahead and think what’s in the best interest of their child, they can really try to figure out what’s the best way to divide that trick-or-treating time. Really trying to figure out which parent is available, which neighborhoods the child has most friends with, and then have the ability to split that time up if possible so the child has the ability to enjoy the holiday with friends and family.
ME: Yeah you say if you’re maybe in two different neighborhoods, share the night.
JM: Absolutely, I mean, that’s the best message that you can send to the child, realize that the holiday isn’t about you as a parent, it’s about what the child has the ability to do and, you know, every kid loves to get as much candy as possible, so what’s the harm in having the child go with both parents and have a couple of neighborhoods to go through to collect the candy.
ME: Yeah. This next one people might go, “eh, i don’t know, Jonathan…trick-or-treat together.”
JM: Yeah. It does not happen very often, but again, it’s more of what the message is. You know, you’ve seen a lot, we even did a segment on the good divorce, you know, a couple of weeks ago, and it would be a great message to the children if the parents have the ability to do it. Depending on how fresh the situation is that may not be possible, just coming off a divorce, but, you know, if time has passed and each of you has moved on, and now everybody is more collaborative in nature and doing what’s in the best interest of your child, it’s a possibility and it sends a wonderful message to the child that the parents have gotten along, moved on with their life, and are really child-focused.
ME: Yeah. If that doesn’t work, you can always split the holiday into separate events. I mean we just had, like, trunk-or-treat at my kid’s school, there’s a lot of different things going on this month.
JM: Right. And you know, it’s similar to when you divide up winter break. Just don’t look at it as the 31st in and of itself, there’s always the trunk-or-treat, all the schools are doing that now, there’s also, you know, what if you’re a parent who has to work on that particular evening, maybe you’re the one that goes and takes the child for the purpose of shopping for the Halloween costume, maybe you’re doing something special with your side of the family during that period of time as well, and make sure that the child feels included with both parents for the holiday.
ME: Yeah. A nice gesture you say is “Share the photos from that night.”
JM: Absolutely. I mean in today’s world you’re taking pictures with your iPhone anyway, all it is is for you to hit the message button and send them over to the other parent.
ME: And finally, what if you do have to spend the night alone?
JM: I think it’s important to send a message to your child that it’s okay. You know, you don’t want to have a child feeling guilty or put in the middle of a situation where they think they should be with the other parent because they are alone, and as long a you reinforce to the child that you’re just doing something that you’re okay with, and that they should be going out and having a good time, that’s what’s important, that child is no longer in the middle of a custody situation with his or her parents and can go out and enjoy that evening stress-free.
ME: Yeah, “I’m going to stay home, I’m going to pass out candy, it’s going to be fun, you have fun.”
ME: Alright, family law attorney Jonathan Marks thank you so much, some great advice for us this morning.