Manely Firm - October 2019

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O ctober 2019

C elebrating H alloween The Perfect Exper ience Every Year

Halloween embodies the spirit of giving and mock mischief, and, for many children, it’s one of the best times of the year. It allows them to get a better sense of community, provides a chance for neighbors to show kindness and generosity, and presents the perfect opportunity for parents to show off their kids. I remember going around the neighborhood trick-or-treating with my mom right behind me and doing the same with my three boys when they were young. It was always wonderful to drop by the different neighbors’ houses and watch the kids interact with them and witness their generosity. Growing up, I enjoyed Halloween as much as any kid my age. My mom was big on trick-or-treating and tended to go all out with our costumes, which she made from scratch. One year, we went as “The Wizard of Oz” characters; I was the Scarecrow, my sister was Dorothy, a good friend of mine was the Tin Man, and our Doberman was the Cowardly Lion. My mom’s enthusiasm influenced me when I had kids, and I tended to go all out for them, as well. During one memorable Halloween, my middle child went trick-or-treating as a decapitated fellow. We made a coffee table that was light enough for him to carry on his shoulders and cut out a silver piece of plastic to use as a dinner platter. In the center of the table, we cut a hole and glued the “platter” around it with enough room for his head to slide through. At every house, he’d ring the doorbell and sit down so the table’s legs would rest on the ground. He looked like a decapitated head.

Remembering how much fun I had both as a kid and then with my own kids is something I’ll always cherish. But for many parents, Halloween can be a little more stressful, especially for separated spouses or parents. In settlement agreements, it’s not unusual for parents to put in the time and effort to ensure they will have their kids during the holidays, but, not infrequently, Halloween is one that tends to get overlooked. Typically, parents want to make sure they each get their turns with their child during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. When Halloween isn’t considered in these plans, parents might try to split it up by alternating every year or both decide to spend time with them that day. The problem is that there is a very small window of time when kids can go out trick-or-treating. Often, this holiday will become increasingly crucial to a parent when they don’t have it. They might not think or care about Halloween at first, but when Oct. 31 comes along, they’re unable to take their kids out and genuinely start missing that experience.

These types of situations can become even more tricky depending on custody. If we create a circumstance in which the mother has primary custody and the father has the child every other weekend, and if Halloween were to fall on a Thursday, the dad couldn’t take his child out trick-or-treating. Even if it landed on a weekend, the dad would only have the chance to take them out if it happened to be his weekend. In cases like these, the father isn’t going to get to spend Halloween with his child almost ever. Halloween is a beautiful time of year and just one of the many “little things” in life that tends to be more valuable once it’s gone. For parents, it’ll be well worth the effort to think about how important this holiday is and to make sure everyone involved has a wonderful experience year after year. –Michael Manely

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