It’s that time of year. Falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and Halloween school parades. With the fun also comes questions about Halloween parent-time. The questions arise because Halloween is treated differently than all of the other holidays outlined in Utah Code Ann. 30-3-35, which provides the default schedule for holiday parent-time. All of the other holidays include at least one overnight and the days of the holidays are somewhat fixed by school schedules and federal government holiday declarations.

With Halloween, there is no corresponding overnight. Further, the date and time of celebration is not fixed by school or the federal government but rather by the local community.

Utah Code Ann. sec. 30-3-35(2)(g)(vi) states that in even-numbered years, the non-custodial parent is entitled to Halloween. This assumes that the custodial parent is entitled to the holiday in odd-numbered years. If your court order does not specify which of the parents is the non-custodial parent, it is usually considered to be the parent with fewer overnights per year.

The code specifically says:

“(vi) Halloween on October 31 or the day Halloween is traditionally celebrated in the local community from after school until 9 p.m. if on a school day, or from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.”

The law references “the local community” to determine the date and time of this holiday. That means, that when Halloween falls in the middle of a week, the local community might have “trick-or-treat” hours on Friday or Saturday, and that might be different for the custodial home and the noncustodial home. Also, some parents don’t engage in “trick-or-treat” in the community at large but prefer to attend a local event for kids.

The courts largely expect parents to work together to sort this out, and to do so in manner that maximizes opportunity for the child to have fun with his or her parents. Presumably this means that the child might have more than one opportunity to trick-or-treat if the two different parent communities have the event on two different nights. When counting overnight parent-time for the year, remember to skip this holiday in the calculation.

Utah Family Law Blog