Despite our best efforts to terrify them, Halloween is for the kids. The costumes, the parties and most of all, the candy, make it a holiday that children look forward to for months. For divorced parents, however, the holidays come with a unique set of challenges—and Halloween is no exception.

Despite Halloween’s scary potential for conflict, the most important thing is to make sure your child is happy. Depending on your relationship with your ex-spouse, there are many ways to accomplish this. Here are some helpful tips to make sure Halloween is more treat than trick and that your child gets to spend time with both of you.

Co-Parenting

In a divorce, determining the time (when and for how long) each parent can see their child is a delicate issue (“Parenting time“). In order to avoid astronomical legal fees and encourage a low-conflict environment for the children, more divorced couples are turning to co-parenting.  Co-parenting keeps the emphasis on the kid(s) by involving a professional counselor to help parents resolve issues and create a successful parenting plan. Relying on a parenting coordinator to clear up disputes allows parents to focus on what really matters: the children.

A parenting coordinator is always solutions oriented. Obviously avoiding lawyers and the courts is great, but having an unbiased third party to sort through arguments, negotiate appropriate boundaries if need be, and establish parenting goals, all of which are especially important around a holiday like Halloween, when all of the things that they want to do can create some disagreements between the two of you.

Plan Ahead

To avoid a situation where conflict might arise, it’s important to plan who will be doing what on Halloween well in advance. There are plenty of things the two of you can plan that will seem like surprises to the kids.

  • If you live in the same city, the parent who took the kids trick-or-treating can bring them to the other parent’s house at the end for a visit.
  • If need be, you can always split the holiday into separate events. One parent can have a little party for them one night, while other parent can do the trick-or-treating on the actual holiday.
  • If you and your former spouse are on good terms, taking your child trick-or-treating together will certainly put a smile on their face. Joining as a family is especially important if your child is still young, and it will show them that even though the two of you aren’t married, it doesn’t mean you can’t still do things together.

Halloween is a holiday that’s easy to overlook, especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. To avoid rushing to make last minute plans, be sure that it’s on your calendar and the two of you plan something well in advance.

Minimize Conflict

Above all else, it’s crucial to lay ego to the side. For example, your child may very well request to do the actual trick-or-treating with the other parent over you, and that’s okay (don’t ask with whom they would like to trick-or-treat though, as it can make them feel guilty). Your child should be put first and foremost during holidays in general, and their wishes should be respected.

As divorced parents, it might be easy to get into a fight about trivial things such as your kid’s costume, how late they can stay out or what movies they can watch. Disagreements are natural in these situations, but keeping a cool head, especially in front of your child, is paramount. You can alternate years in terms of who takes them trick-or-treating, and you can decide in advance who will have the final say on any of the above things.

Halloween is supposed to be a fun time, and it can stay that way no matter what. Being there for your child in a way that works for both parents will show that you care and are willing to put aside personal differences for their benefit. Planning ahead and communicating with your ex can ensure that the only monsters present this Halloween are ringing doorbells and asking for candy