5 Tricks to Make Halloween a Treat for Co-Parents

Halloween is the beginning of a holiday season that may be challenging for families in any stage of divorce. Halloween and other holidays that focus primarily on children can be difficult to navigate, even for expert co-parents. Although it’s not always easy, every parent’s priority at this time should be to ensure that the children and their safety and happiness is the focus. There will be school parties, family and friend parties, trick-or-treating, costumes to choose, candy preferences, bedtime extensions, and many other reasons to communicate with your co-parent at this time – whether you want to or not. Here are 5 “tricks” to help your children have a spooky good Halloween.

Communicate about Costumes.

Some children prefer scary costumes, some prefer cute, some want to carry big faux weapons, and some older children are looking for more provocative costume choices. Each parent has their own feelings about what kind of costumes are appropriate for their children. Most parenting plans written by our attorneys designate which parent is responsible for costumes each year, but if your Parenting Plan does not include these guidelines, you should discuss the costumes before allowing children to wear them, especially with older children and teenagers.

Talk about Plans and Activities.

Our Parenting Plans designate which parent will have overnight time-sharing with the children on Halloween night, but not all plans include this. Additionally, Halloween night will not be the only thing to discuss. If you haven’t had these conversations before now, call or text your ex to figure out who is doing what. There will be school Halloween events, such as parties, parades, pumpkin carving, and trunk -or – treat too. Sometimes these events are scheduled before or after Halloween night. Who will transport your child’s costume to make sure your children have their costume for each event? Will your children have a different costume at each parent’s home? Who will decorate the trunk? These are all issues that your children would appreciate their parents figuring out to prevent unnecessary anxiety or stress.

Trick or Treating Togetherness.

Can you tolerate sharing space with your ex for a few hours of trick-or-treating? If you can both manage this, imagine how special that could be for your children. If not, is it possible for one parent to take your children for a couple hours and then exchange so that the other parent can take them ack out for more trick-or-treating? We don’t know many children that would complain about twice the candy!

Stay Focused on the Fun.

More than anything, make sure to stay focused. What is this all really about? The stress that co-parents experience around Halloween revolves around the fact that they want to have fun with their children. Don’t let the tension from a difficult relationship with your ex cloud your vision. Put aside your own feelings and recognize that your children deserve to have fun with their parents. Your children will appreciate you for this.

Make Sure You Have a Parenting Plan – and Follow It.

Halloween is only the start. The coming months will include various holiday festivities which will require communication and planning. For some families, this time also brings out of state travel. Do you have a great Parenting Plan? If so, just check the Holiday section and you’ll be all set. If you don’t have a Parenting Plan, consider it. A comprehensive parenting plan created by a family attorney can take the guesswork out of holidays and help each parent plan and understand how they will spend time with their children. Most importantly, this can alleviate tension and stress that your children will undoubtedly absorb.

If you would like to discuss your specific family needs in a parenting plan or review your current parenting plan, feel free to contact Hancock Law Firm at 727-222-0529 to schedule a consultation with our attorneys.

Our favorite days are adoption days!!! This afternoon, we had the honor of finalizing the adoption of this sweet 9 year old young lady. This has been a long road for this incredible family, but look at the happy ending!

Hancock Law Firm will be closed on Monday in observance of Memorial Day. We hope that all Americans will take time to reflect on the important sacrifice made by those men and woman (and their families) who have died to secure the freedoms we enjoy today.

4 Apps for Busy Parents

Parents are busier than ever and always striving to keep their children active. Hancock Law Firm is here to help with a few suggestions to keep your family organized, learning, responsible, and still have a little fun!

Today, we’re sharing with you 4 Apps for busy parents! These Apps are available for Apple and Android users so try a few and be sure to leave us a note to let us know what you think! Do you have any favorites that didn’t make the list?

Cozi Family Organizer

This app simplifies family life by offering a family calendar that is interactive. You can keep track of everyone’s schedule with a brilliant color-coded calendar. The reminders tool allows you to set reminders for yourself and send reminders to other family members and even allows daily reminders and/or weekly agenda e-mails to family members. The App also offers you the option to create your shopping list and recipes and to share these with your family members. Never forget the shopping list when you’re at the grocery again! There’s a free version of the App (with ads) or an annual subscription available for a full, ad free experience. The paid subscription currently runs $29.99 per year.


This is a learning App that makes learning a new language fun! The App offers French, Spanish, German, and over 27 other languages to choose from! This is a good back seat alternative to movies or YouTube for kids to play on the way to school in the morning or even for long road trips. There is something for every learning level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) so everyone can join the fun. This App is completely free and has voice options that will play back how the words should be pronounced.

Chore Monster

Chore monster makes chores fun by engaging and rewarding your kids for completing the tasks. This App is aimed toward children ages 4 and older. Children earn points that can be used towards things like ice cream, an hour playing their favorite game, and many more. This App is completely free and user friendly .

Winnie the App

This App puts parents in touch with their local community. Parents can search for local child care providers, preschools, and fun child friendly events and activities.  Parents also have the option to ask other parents for advice or input on parenting issues they’re facing. We love the local aspect of this App because we know first hand that sometimes parents really need some help to find their “village.”

Have you tried any of these Apps for your family? What did you think? Do you use any others that you think should be added to the list? Let us know!

Ten Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

by Autumn N. Hancock, Esq.

Negotiations are something that most everyone encounters in business and in everyday life. Whether it’s negotiating the terms of a business transaction, negotiating on behalf of a client at a mediation, or negotiating whether your child is allowed to stay up for 10 more minutes, honing your skills in this area is important.

As a mediator and an attorney, I’ve been involved in thousands of negotiations. This list is a very abbreviated version of what I have learned.

Here are 10 tips to help improve negotiation skills:

1. Be Prepared. You can never be too prepared. Even if you are a professional negotiator who has done this thousands of times, each set of facts is different. It’s important to prepare before each negotiation so that you can make well informed offers and decisions. In addition to knowing everything about the issue you’re negotiating, it’s helpful to learn as much as you can about the person on the other side. What are their needs? Why are they there? What are their risks. The more information you have, the stronger you will be in your negotiation.

2. Ask for What You Want. I once worked for a large litigation firm where a partner told me, “Women make less than men because they never ask for what they want.” While I disagree with his statement for many reasons, we all have to be careful not to fall into this trap. If you don’t ask for what you want in negotiations, it’s impossible to achieve your best outcome. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Start by letting people know what you or your client wants to achieve without anxiety and without inserting any feelings or accusations.

3. Aim High. If you expect more, you allow yourself to achieve more. I’ve worked with several successful negotiators who always open negotiations with an extreme stance. They use this strategy to gain a stronger starting position. Of course, this comes with the risk that the other side will walk away from the negotiations at the very outset. It doesn’t usually end this way though. People who ask for more than they expect to receive most often end up with a more satisfying result.

4. Stop Talking. This tip is the hardest for me personally but it’s so important. In order to be an effective negotiator, one must be a good listener. Successful negotiators gather information, they ask questions and then they stop talking. Ask open ended questions to the other side. It’s when you listen that you can learn the information you need to resolve the issues. Many negotiators follow the “70/30 rule” – talk 30 percent of the time and listen 70 percent of the time. Also, after you ask for what you want – STOP TALKING. Let the other side respond to your ask. If you keep going, chances are you will talk them out of giving you what you want. Embrace the awkward silences.

5. Don’t Focus on Your Reasons- Think About Theirs. If you spend your time focusing on the reasons that you need to resolve this situation, you may be working against yourself. In your mind, because you’re focused on your pressures, you will make the other side appear more powerful. While you need to be aware of them, don’t focus on the limitations of your position, focus on the strengths. If you think about the pressures being felt by the other side and the reasons that they need to make a deal, you will enhance your power and your negotiation position.

6. Satisfy Their Needs, Not Their Demands. Instead of responding to the demands being made by the other side, think about that they truly need to be satisfied. Look at the situation from their perspective and think about what concessions you can make that will add value for them but will have a very low cost for you or your client. Look to satisfy the basic needs of the other side. Focus on their needs, not their wants. This will allow a lot more negotiation room for your side to achieve its best outcome. Once you’ve figured out how to meet the basic needs of the other side, show them that their needs will be met.

7. Be Persistent. Negotiation requires an attitude that is persistent. Be resilient, especially under pressure. Often, the other side will try several strategies to move the negotiations in their favor, but a successful negotiator will be persistent and will stand firm. Eventually, this persistence will begin to break down the obstacles put up by the other side and will allow you to move forward towards a satisfactory outcome

8. Take Your Time. If you are in a hurry, you are more likely to make mistakes. If you have the most time, you will have the advantage. If the other side is in a rush to conclude the negotiations, and you are nonchalant about time, they will believe that you are not under any pressure. It will appear that you don’t need to make a deal. This is very likely to induce the other side to concede more and more in their position to entice you to agree.

9. Give Up Your Desire to Please. This means, don’t be willing to give away anything just to feel like you’re giving. Only concede when you’re getting something in return. When you give without receiving something in return, the other side will feel empowered to ask for more and more. Giving something up without asking for something in return is self-defeating. Make the other side earn the things you’re giving them by giving something up themselves. This is how you will work toward a beneficial resolution.

10. Be Ready to Walk Away. If you never consider walking away as an option, you will be more inclined to give in as a method to make a deal. Don’t be willing to take just any deal. Always negotiate with the knowledge that you can walk away if you can’t come to an agreement that is satisfactory. This will give you strength that the other side will feel

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below or send us a message!