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Temporary vs. Long Term Spousal Support: Key Differences

One of the most complex issues in any family law case is spousal support. In order to simplify the issue, the courts break spousal support down into two component parts:  Temporary Spousal Support and Permanent, or Long Term, Spousal Support.

Temporary spousal support is generally awarded near the beginning of the case at the request of either party. The amount is generally determined by the same guidelines as child support using a computer software program. The current income from each party, if any, is placed into the software program, and a guideline temporary spousal support award is determined.

Permanent, or long term, spousal support, is not based on a computer program but on various factors under the California Family Code including, but not limited to:

  • the assets and debts of each party
  • the earning capacity of each party
  • the marital standard of living
  • the age and health of the parties
  • any other factor the court deems relevant.

The duration of spousal support is often tied to the duration of the marriage.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

 

For marriages of less than ten years, spousal support is generally awarded for one half the length of the marriage. For marriages of greater than ten years, known as marriages of long duration, the court will generally maintain jurisdiction, or power, over spousal support until the death of either party or the remarriage of the supported party. This does not mean that spousal support in long marriages will last forever. The court has authority to order a step-down and to reduce or terminate spousal support based on a change in circumstances that may include, but not be limited to, the cohabitation of the supported party or the age 65 retirement of the supporting party.

Although not required in marriages of long duration, it is customary for a court, upon request, to order the supported party to make efforts to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. In addition, it is possible to request and obtain an order to subject the supported party to a vocational examination in order assess the earning capacity of a spouse who is unemployed or under-employed for purposes of permanent, or long term, spousal support.

How Is Permanent Spousal Support Decided?

 

Because the court has such broad discretion, or decision-making authority, over permanent spousal support, the outcome at trial is far more uncertain than in the case of temporary spousal support. As a result, a negotiated settlement of permanent spousal support often makes sense in eliminating the uncertainty associated with litigation and reducing the exposure of each party to a potentially adverse result at trial. In many cases, an award of property can be used in lieu of spousal support in order to effectuate a buy-out. It is important to consult with an attorney as early in the process as possible in order to assess risks, strategies and possible resolutions to this critical issue.

 

- Matthew R. Bogosian, Senior Trial Attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS)

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Temporary vs. Permanent Spousal Support

One of the most complex issues in any family law case is spousal support.  In order to simplify the issue, the courts break spousal support down into two component parts: temporary spousal support and permanent, or long term, spousal support.

Temporary spousal support is generally awarded near the beginning of the case at the request of either party. The amount is generally determined by the same guidelines as child support using a computer software program. The current income from each party, if any, is placed into the software program, and a guideline temporary spousal support award is determined.

Long term, or permanent spousal support, is not based on a computer program but on various factors under the California Family Code. Considerations include the assets and debts of each party, the earning capacity of each party, the marital standard of living, the age and health of the parties, and any other factor the court deems relevant. The duration of spousal support is often tied to the duration of the marriage.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

For marriages of less than ten years, spousal support is generally awarded for one half the length of the marriage. For marriages of greater than ten years, known as marriages of long duration, the court will generally maintain jurisdiction, or power, over spousal support until the death of either party or the remarriage of the supported party. This does not mean that spousal support in long marriages will last forever. The court has authority to order a step-down and to reduce or terminate spousal support based on a change in circumstances that may include, but not be limited to, the cohabitation of the supported party or the age 65 retirement of the supporting party.

Although not required in marriages of long duration, it is customary for a court, upon request, to order the supported party to make efforts to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. In addition, it is possible to request and obtain an order to subject the supported party to a vocational examination in order assess the earning capacity of a spouse who is unemployed or under-employed for purposes of permanent, or long term, spousal support.

Why Should You Negotiate a Spousal Support Settlement?

Because the court has such broad discretion, or decision-making authority, over permanent spousal support, the outcome at trial is far more uncertain than in the case of temporary spousal support. As a result, a negotiated settlement of permanent spousal support often makes sense in eliminating the uncertainty associated with litigation, and reducing the exposure of each party to a potentially adverse result at trial.  In many cases, an award of property can be used in lieu of spousal support in order to effectuate a buy-out.  It is important to consult with an attorney as early in the process as possible in order to assess risks, strategies and possible resolutions to this critical issue.

- Matt Bogosian

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What is a medical directive?

Under California law, the way assets are divided in divorce is pretty straightforward. Any property that was acquired during marriage is presumed to be community property, and is divided 50/50.

Any property that was either owned prior to marriage or acquired during marriage by a gift from outside the relationship, or from an inheritance, belongs to the person who received the gift or the inheritance.

There are many exceptions to those rules but those are the basic rules. Knowing all of those exceptions and knowing how they affect your specific case is critical. If you have any questions about whether you have a claim on a property that you’ve acquired during marriage, or before or after, you need to call Holstrom, Block, & Parke.

Call (855) 939-9111 Now for a Free Phone Consultation.

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True Love Lasts a Lifetime. So Does an Estate Plan.

There are many different ways to express how much we care and say, “I love you.” Red roses, a date night, a spa day, or planning a trip are all great ways to celebrate Valentine's Day. However, what says "I love you" more than assuring them that you will do anything you can to minimize their stress should something happen to you? This Valentine’s Day, consider giving your loved one an unconventional gift… an estate plan. Don't forget the flowers and chocolates too!

While a legal document may not be the most "romantic gift," it is definitely one of the most meaningful and heartfelt gifts you can give or receive. Sitting down and taking time with your significant other or family member to review your current estate plan, or discuss your estate planning goals and create a carefully crafted strategy, is an important and thoughtful “date” that will protect and benefit your family for years to come. An estate plan is not just an important legal document that saves your loved one's time, money, stress, and potential heartbreak. An estate plan is also a way of expressing care, commitment, and love. Present your loved ones with a gift that will last well beyond February 14 and will continue providing and supporting that individual today, tomorrow, and even after your passing.

The past twelve months have been a constant reminder that life is truly unpredictable. Major life events such as a global pandemic, marriage or divorce, death, or a crippling change in one's financial situation could happen at any time, and any one of these would require changes to your estate plan to keep it valid. Whether you are in the beginning stages of your estate plan or revisiting an existing plan, everyone needs to plan ahead— no matter how young, healthy, and invincible you may feel. While your estate plan will never expire, it is strongly advised that you review your plan once every three years.  Make this a regular date night! Enjoy a nice bottle of wine together, review your plan, discuss your goals, address any major changes. There is no better way to show your commitment and love for one another.

Sandoval Legacy Group is now a division of Holstrom, Block & Parke, a Professional Law Corporation, one of the largest and most respected family law firms in Southern California. Once you are ready, we encourage you to meet with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys. With over 30 years of experience, we are here to guide and support you and your loved ones throughout your estate planning journey. We will ensure you, your loved one, and your legacy is protected no matter what life has in store. Request a consultation or contact us at (855) 939-9111 for any estate planning needs.

Understanding and Preparing for a Move-Away Case

A Move Away case is one where a parent seeks to relocate to some other geographic area with a child they share with a parent who will remain local. Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in requests for consultations and representation in move-away cases. Some of the requests are due to the simple desire to leave California and reside in another state. Others have job opportunities in another state, or would like to be closer to family. We’ve also received requests from parents who would like to oppose the move-away request by the other parent. Whatever the case may be, understanding the intricacies and legalities of move-away cases is paramount to prevailing in such a case and often that is concurrently doing what is best for the child.

What is a move-away case?

A move-away is a particular type of custody case where two parents have a dispute or disagreement about what's going to happen with their kid(s) when either parent is going to relocate and there is an existing custodial arrangement. For example, they've got a schedule, maybe the parties have been separated for a couple years, or even a few months, but they have an existing de facto or status quo custodial relationship. The arrangement, or custodial relationship, could be 50/50, it could be 80/20. Or it may not be a percentage of time, but something like a set number of days during the week, and alternating weekends. When the kids are typically younger in age it is optimal, from a psychological developmental perspective, for a shared arrangement to grant more time to the parent who has more capability to be home and care for them (if such a circumstance exists).

Whatever the very legitimate and appropriate reason for the existing arrangements, whether by court order or not, the court will make a decision, or the parties have made a decision, that the existing arrangement is in the best interest of the child. A move-away case is a significant undertaking that happens with some frequency--And that frequency is increasing with today’s societal mobility, economic uncertainty, the ability to find more “virtual” employment opportunities, new relationships being formed from long distance, and ever changing migration patterns.

There is an abundance of law from the state of California, that relates to how the court should handle these cases, so that they're handled consistently the same. Yet the tactics and strategies exist that increase the probability of success, whether seeking to relocate with the child(ren), or opposing such a move.

How does a move-away case differ from a visitation case?

Custody time (also called “time-share”) is a plan for how the parents will share time with the children. This may also be referred to as “custody time” or “visitation” or the like. It is a shorthand way to refer to the amount of time a child is with each respective parent. Such court orders vary, depending on the best interest of the children, the situation of the parents, and other factors. If the case is more about minimal schedule changes, it's not a custody case. It's what we call a time-share type case. These cases are typically easier to resolve because we're not talking about a dramatic change in a custodial arrangement.

What many parents fail to understand…

The foundation for every custodial arrangement is what is in the best interest of the children, which includes relocation. So often, parents talk about “my time,” and they use the word “my kids”. They assert that they are entitled to “their rights”. Those parents are incorrect, and will face tremendous challenges if they are involved in litigation. Custody matters will always be about what's best for the children. The law starts from a presumption that frequent and continuous contact with both parents is what is best for the children. Many people confuse that to be a presumption that this naturally equates to a 50/50 arrangement. This is simply not true. There are so many factors involved in determining what is best for the child, outside of the parents’ opinions. The decision needs to be carefully made by the court in order to avoid having detrimental effect on the children, or impede the other parent's ongoing relationship and access to the child.

Some things courts will consider when determining move-away requests:

  • Which parent (if either) has an actual, or de facto, primary custodial relationship prior to the requested move
  • The good faith reason for the move (ex. job opportunity) -not designed to simply get away form the ex spouse (this is in turn mitigated if there is a history of Domestic Violence)
  • Distance of the move being considered/requested and the logistical issues raised include travel time, cost, etc.
  • The child’s age can be a large factor in the judge’s decision as it may be more difficult for younger children who haven’t had proper time to develop parent/child relationships-or older children who while more physiologically and psychologically developed and bonded have concurrently formed strong bonds with friends, schools, extended family, etc.
  • Any history of violence within the household(s)
  • The current and historical relationship between the parents
  • Ability to maintain proper medical treatment at both locations
  • The parents’ ability to Co-Parent or a lack of willingness to do so
  • The “best interest” of the child
  • The child’s preference and feelings about the move (depending upon the age)
  • An overall assessment of the “detriment” of the move. This issue was given overriding importance in the most recent California Supreme court case on this subject. In such cases, even where a permanent custody order is in place, the custodial parent’s right to relocate with a child remains subject to the changed circumstance rule. (In re Marriage of LaMusga (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1072) 1088-1089 (LaMusga).

It is important to note the individual elements referenced above are not necessarily equal, nor determinative. The court will look at the totality of the circumstances in assessing the best interest and detriment.

Here in Southern California, a classic example of a move-away could be any distance greater than 30 miles, say Orange County to Riverside County. While this doesn’t seem like a huge distance, commute time needs to be taken into consideration. The freeways are often heavy with traffic and while the distance isn’t tremendous, the time it takes to travel between the two areas could frequently be over two hours on any given weekday. The commute is going to impede a parent from being able to spend enough quality time with the children. More importantly, how is that drive going to affect that child? Is it going to affect the ability of a parent to pick up on Friday evening? This kind of move would also potentially mean a change in school districts and various other factors.

Here’s where it gets complicated…

Once the relocation is defined as a move-away, things can get really, really complicated. Sometimes the status quo may not contain a court order that grants parents the ability to relocate. Some attorneys who craft judgments (and some people without attorneys) don't put all of the necessary language outlined in their judgments into their court orders, relative to custody. As is such, it may be possible that a parent could move and then change visitation later on. It's also possible that doing so could have negative consequences. This is one reason why it is critical that you have a discussion with a competent family law attorney to talk about your options, in your case.

What if there isn’t a court order in place for custody?

The following is a hypothetical situation: Two parents are unmarried and they're already living apart. There is no court order in place for custody of their child. One parent decides that they want to relocate with their child. They decide that they're going to go ahead and move to New York without consulting an attorney.

Guess what is likely to happen in this instance.... The other parent (more likely than not) is going to run into court and ask for an emergency order to have that parent, either not relocate with the child or immediately return the child. The parent who has already moved to New York, has probably settled in, secured employment and has started their new life. However, the court can effectively change the custodial arrangement because the first parent acted improperly and failed to do things the right way.

It's imperative to get a plan in place and follow the plan. The commonly used colloquialism that sometimes “It’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission” may work--or may lead to disastrous consequences.

How does a parent looking to move away get permission if they need it?

First, they will need to create a paper trail and reach out to the other party stating intent to move. Ask them what their thoughts are on the matter. It may be received well, it may not. Regardless, communicating the intent, (or possible intent,) in writing is always the first step. If they don't ask and just rush to court, then the court is going to think badly of that person for not asking or trying to work it out with the other parent. This is true whether the parents have court orders or not. Someone who is still in an intact relationship and simply takes off in the middle of the night with the child to a far away place is equally subject to an adverse consequence. While a history of Domestic Violence may mitigate this, it may not eliminate it.

A key point to keep in mind is that the court has no authority to tell a parent that they cannot move. Every adult in the United States has an absolute, unrestricted right to travel. The government cannot say that a parent can't move; that they have to stay here and take care of the children. In fact, what the court does when they engage in a move-away, is start with the presumption that the move is happening. They make orders based upon that expectation. The order will either be that the children move with the parent who is relocating, or that they stay with the non-moving parent. Then arrangements for visitation will be made accordingly.

Move-away cases are not a quick and easy process

Whether or not there is a custody order in place, a plan is needed. After step one, it might be time to file the move-away request with the court. If it is a full on move-away case, it's probably going to take quite some time to get the hearing on it and get it done. That means going to court, certainly doing mediation at court, possibly doing a custodial evaluation, setting the matter for an evidentiary hearing with witnesses and cross examination, dealing with cancellations and postponements that are rabid in the court system, particularly with COVID, and finally, having the hearing and getting a court ruling. And even if the parties get a court ruling, thee law of California mandates that the parent is not allowed to move for 30 days after that ruling. This can really drag out and parents really need to plan for the long haul.

How long does it take to resolve a move-away case?

This depends on the courthouse. If the case is being processed within the public court system, then parents at the mercy of the court. There may be shutdowns because of COVID. It may also take awhile if a psychological evaluation, referred to as a “730 Evaluation,"  is required. There may be a trial set for three days on a move-away case, and then some other case bumps it, and it gets postponed for another two or three months. A short time period might be six to nine months, while a long time period might be a year and a half or more, because of how the legal system works. This is why it is important to get started with the process as soon the parent thinks that they will be moving. Parents should always make a plan and seek legal counsel before they accept a job out of state, buy plane tickets, or hire movers. Then again, bad advice can set you back both in time and in the ultimate likelihood of success.

No two move-away cases are alike...

Please remember, every move-away case, like every custody case, is different. There are unique aspects of each and every one. The one thing that always remains the same is that ultimately, this is about what's best for the children. If the parents have a good co parenting arrangement, that can serve as a basic foundation for resolving things amicably. However, parents should only do so after consulting with competent counsel.

If you are contemplating a move and want to do things the right way, please reach out to us as soon as possible. Our team has extensive experience with move-away cases and we can help you plan for this impactful life change in a way that keeps your children the priority and offers the best possible outcome for your family.

PLEASE NOTE:

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. It does not create an attorney/client relationship in any way, shape or form. Holstrom, Block and Parke are attorneys at law, licensed to practice in the state of California and have based the information presented on US laws. All cases are different and nothing in this content is intended to suggest any particular result for your matter. Holstrom, Block and Parke has no control over and accepts no liability in respect of materials, products or services available on any website which is not under the control of Holstrom, Block and Parke. Certain links in this website will lead to websites which are not under the control of Holstrom, Block and Parke, APLC. When you activate these website links, you will leave the Holstrom, Block and Parke website. Therefore, we have no control over and accept no liability in respect of the materials, products or services available on the third party websites, which are not under control of Holstrom, Block and Parke. There is no substitute for seeking out advice from a competent Family Law professional and you should always consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.

Tips For Creating A Holiday Parenting Plan or Order

It's the most wonderful time of the year...it’s also the busiest and can be the most stressful time for families with parents who are separated or divorced, and have to figure out how to make sure that the children spend time with both parents. Creating a holiday schedule doesn’t have to be a source of stress for parents and children. In fact, the purpose of having a schedule or court order in place ahead of time is to alleviate frustration, confusion and chaos. These things enable both parents to plan for their major holidays respectively, while ensuring that the children have adequate time with each parent and the sense of security that comes with having a well communicated, mutually agreed upon plan. Children have so many expectations and emotions tied to holidays, due to the traditions and memories created. No child wants to spend the holidays, after a separation or divorce, listening to parents argue, being put in the middle of parental squabbles, or being made to feel guilty for spending time with one parent over the other parent. Parents should work together to mitigate anxiety and negative emotions for their children, while preparing them for new traditions and schedule changes in a way that reassures them that the holidays will still be memorable and a positive experience. The Custody Queens have some valuable tips for parents who want to navigate the holiday season as peacefully as possible by creating a plan that works for everyone, especially the children.

  1. Plan ahead. Do not wait until the last minute to start a conversation with the other parent. This needs to be well thought out and planned for in advance of the holiday so that plans can be communicated with the children.
  2. Be specific in crafting court Orders, but remain open to flexibility in practice. Having a specific court Order can help manage expectations and mitigate stress. On the other hand, remember life happens and being flexible with the other parent can be more practical and help foster a genuine co-parenting relationship.
  3. Accept that holidays will generally be split. This is really a conversation about how to arrange the time. Some suggestions on how to do this are:
    1. Alternating holidays (i.e. In odd years one parent has Christmas Eve and the other parent has Christmas day. In even years, the parents switch days.)
    2. Split the day between both parents (i.e. The first half of Thanksgiving Day is spent with one parent, the second half of Thanksgiving Day is spent with the other)
    3. Schedule the holiday twice. As parents, we can observe holidays on alternative days. For example, often separated parents observe their child’s birthday on a different day so that both parents get to celebrate. What child doesn’t want two birthdays?!
  4. Address travel. Will arrangements be needed for transportation and what time will need to be allotted for this? Who will be making these arrangements and paying travel expenses?
  5. Keep the children out of it. Even if you disagree, do not bring your children into the dispute—children want to celebrate holidays, not inherit your stress.
  6. Itemize which holidays need to be addressed in the Order. Some families celebrate only major holidays; others celebrate additional days/school break days/etc…Consider the type of schedule you have. If you exercise joint physical custody, do you really need to recognize all non-major holidays? The answer is sometimes yes. However, consider that with a joint physical arrangement, exercising non-major holidays does not provide you with additional time—it provides you with adjusted time that may cause unnecessary disruptions to an otherwise consistent schedule.
  7. Be efficient. Consider negotiating/agreeing on the entire year’s holiday/special day schedule at the same time. There is inevitably going to be more passion related to the holiday which is right in front of you (i.e. Christmas Eve or Christmas Day). Rather than having 8-9 different negotiations every time a holiday is approaching, just sit down, and agree on whatever split works best for your family for the entire year. If you don’t have your preferred schedule for this year, ask to reverse the schedule on alternating years so that it is consistent and your children get the opportunity to experience each holiday with both sides of the family.
  8. Special requests. If the other side has a request, do not refuse it just for the sake of refusal. Consider asking for an accommodation on your own special requests when negotiating.
  9. Identify your family’s unique needs. If you have them, include them in the plan or Order.

Now is the time to get your plan or orders in place to ensure that everyone has a peaceful holiday. For more tips on thriving during the holiday season, please read our blog post on Tips for Co-parenting Around The Holidays. With good communication, a willingness to compromise and proper planning, your holiday can be a lot less stressful and a lot more merry. Be sure to follow us on social media for daily posts and more.

PLEASE NOTE:

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. It does not create an attorney/client relationship in any way, shape or form. The Custody Queens, a division of Holstrom, Block and Parke, are attorneys at law, licensed to practice in the state of California and have based the information presented on US laws. All cases are different and nothing in this content is intended to suggest any particular result for your matter. Custody Queens has no control over and accepts no liability in respect of materials, products or services available on any website which is not under the control of Custody Queens. Certain links in this website may lead to websites which are not under the control of Custody Queens, or Holstrom, Block and Parke, APLC. When you activate these website links, you will leave the Custody Queens website. Therefore, we have no control over and accept no liability in respect of the materials, products or services available on the third party websites, which are not under control of Custody Queens. There is no substitute for seeking out advice from a competent Family Law professional and you should always consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.

Blended Family Parenting The Do's and Don'ts

Webinar

Date: September 25, 2020
Time: 12:00pm PDT

View Recorded Webinar

Description:

Forming a new, blended family comes with great challenges and great rewards. Having realistic expectations is important for parents wanting to start a blended family. We'll explore elements that successful blended families have in common and how to address attitudes and behaviors that lead to conflict. In collaboration with Custody Queens.

Speakers

 

Moderator: Dayn A. Holstrom, CFLS, Managing Partner and Family Law Attorney, Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC

Dayn A. Holstrom, CFLS, Managing Partner and Family Law Attorney, Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLCDayn Holstrom has distinguished himself and his team as the number one family law firm in Orange County, Riverside, and San Bernardino. His highly experienced attorneys and support staff are exceedingly knowledgeable and support all of their clients with the heart and determination to see your case through.

His commitment to excellence is evident throughout his numerous lifetime achievements. While attending Western State University College of Law, he received the American Jurisprudence Award for the highest achievement in a specific subject 17 times, he was Editor in Chief of the Western State University Law Review and Director of the School’s Don Program for tutoring other students. Dayn was Valedictorian and graduated summa cum laude with the highest GPA in the history of the school.

Fast forward 30 years, Dayn has built a powerhouse of a firm serving Family Law clients throughout California.  Mr. Holstrom is exceptionally experienced and well thought of by the local bar associations and judiciary in the communities in which he practices: Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County. He has served as a Judge Pro Tem and he has been voted “Best Lawyers” by Inland Empire Magazine, OC Metro Magazine and has been consistently rated 10.0 of 10.0 by Avvo.

While not in the office, Dayn enjoys flying, spending time with his kids (3 are lawyers-or soon to be), and 4 grandkids.

Kristen A. Holstrom - Assistant Managing Partner, Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS), Family Law Attorney

Kristen A. Holstrom - Assistant Managing Partner, Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS), Family Law AttorneyKristen Holstrom is the Managing Attorney and Founder of Custody Queens, a subdivision of Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC. As a Certified Family Law Specialist, Kristen focuses on education in legal matters and litigation in complex custody cases.  She is well respected and active within the community, sits on several boards, and has received many accolades and awards including being a three time recipient of the Super Lawyers Rising Star Award. Most recently, she was named the Top 50 Women Rising Star award, and the Top 100 Up-and-Coming Southern California Rising Star list, which is reserved for the top one percent of attorneys in practice under ten years. Kristen’s passion is, and always has been helping children and families navigate through the emotional and difficult times.

As a mother of three young children, Kristen truly understands the hard work, complexity, and joy of raising children. Kristen’s vast legal knowledge and personal experience provides her with a truly unique perspective on family dynamics, effective communication between co-parents, and family law. Kristen focuses on the uniqueness of each case, rather than the “one size fits all” approach and applies real life experience to all aspects of family law cases. Kristen is deeply valued by her clients for her creative legal strategy, aggressive nature, and unwavering loyalty. Kristen is also a radio personality on the Custody Queens radio show on Go Country 105, Saturdays at 8:30 AM.

Stephen Nixon, Attorney and Founder TalkingParents.com

Stephen Nixon, Attorney and Founder TalkingParents.comStephen Nixon graduated from the Florida State University College of Law in 2007. After law school, Stephen served as an Assistant State Attorney for Florida’s First Judicial Circuit. He then went on to co-found The Nixon Law Firm where he practiced family law.

As an attorney, Stephen saw firsthand how poor communication and a lack of accountability caused considerable problems for his clients. The inability to compile an accurate and complete record of interactions between parents led directly to increased legal bills, wasted time in court, and an unhealthy co-parenting environment. He saw the need for a service that would allow parents to keep a single, complete, and unalterable record of all communications and interactions between them. He also saw the need for a service that allowed parents involved in domestic violence situations to communicate regarding their children without sharing their actual contact information or location. These realizations led him to create TalkingParents, which launched in 2010. Since that time, TalkingParents has added many new features and expanded its user base across the U.S. and around the world.

Benjamin Heldfond, Co-Author & Founder, Our Happy Divorce. owner of Heldfond Holdings, LLC

Benjamin Heldfond, Co-Author & Founder, Our Happy Divorce. owner of Heldfond Holdings, LLCBen is the Co-Author of “Our Happy Divorce”, a book Ben and his Ex-Wife Nikki DeBartolo, wrote about their journey through divorce and how it brought them closer together. Ben intimately understand the detriment divorce can cause in the lives of children. The example of his parents’ divorce instilled in him a deep commitment to doing better by his own kids.

Ben’s the owner of Heldfond Holdings, LLC a holding company that invests in a wide variety of companies. Everything from real estate, private equity, and venture capital. Some of them he has an active role either through an advisor or the board of directors. Heldfond Holdings currently holds approximately 20 companies.

Ben began his real estate career in 1999 with a focus on commercial real estate as Vice President, Diversified Assets at DeBartolo Holdings, LLC, Tampa, Florida. He played an integral part in the company’s real estate development acquisitions and diversified investing transactions as well as taking an active role in the Tampa Bay community through the various DeBartolo Family Foundation philanthropic programs. Ben is a founding board member of the Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, a charter school that helps underprivileged children.

Ben graduated from The University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science degree in African American History and Business Administration. Since then he has been involved with several non-profit organizations; many focused on addiction/alcoholism including: Facing Addiction w/NCADD, Road Recovery, Phoenix House, Young People in Recovery and American Cancer Society Tampa CEO Council with a focus on Governance, Finance and Strategic Planning.

Ben is an avid golfer, sports enthusiast and co-host for a local radio show, 102.5 the Bone. He resides in South Tampa with his wife, Nadia; his 16-year old son, Asher; his 6-year-old daughter Isabella, and his 4-year-old son Jackson

Dr. Erin Grimes, Psy.D, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Erin Grimes, Psy.D, Licensed Clinical PsychologistErin Grimes earned her B.A. at UCLA in 2001 and her Psy.D. at California School of Professional Psychology in 2008. She has practiced and taught in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD from 2007-2014. She has also worked in private practice for the past 12 years treating families, couples, and individuals. Erin sees patients in La Jolla and Solana Beach and offers consultation services for families considering divorce.

Erin's treatment approach includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to offer clients effective and quick ways to change behavior and use more adaptive thinking styles to approach life challenges and stress. She also uses existential psychotherapy approaches to help enhance self-awareness, insight, develop empathy, and confidence in one’s personal relationships and professional settings. Both approaches integrate mindfulness exercises such as breathing, meditating, and self-care through healthy lifestyle choices as a way to improve psychological health and well-being.

Personally, she is passionate about being a mother of two children and participating in her community. Through these life experiences, she has gained an understanding of the joys and struggles that accompany marriage and parenthood, which has supported her ability to empathize with the challenges her clients endure. Her own journey of life, personal growth, and development helped her to work with clients in their experiences.

Naja Hall, Author and Founder, Blended and Black, VIP Stepmom.com

Naja Hall, Author and Founder, Blended and Black, VIP Stepmom.comNaja Hall was born and raised in Memphis, TN and has called Harlem, New York City home since 2007. She is the founder of the largest blended family community for millennials, Blended and Black. She also runs VIPStepmom.com, a community for stepmothers. As a means to stay close to her comedy writing roots, Naja produces her passion project Dating Debacles.

She earned an undergraduate degree from The University of Tennessee in Family and Consumer Sciences and went on to attend The University of North Texas where she worked on an MBA in International Business. While in Dallas, TX she began her career as a corporate Buyer. One day while gazing out of her cushy office window, she noticed her colleagues, seemingly in a single filed lined, in the same dark suit, walking into a workday of monotony. It was then that she hopped on her glittery broomstick, flew away, and never looked back!

“If I could have one super-power, I would love to be able to teleport. That way, I could have cheese eggs, bacon and grits with my Grandma in Memphis every morning, go for a mid-day swim in Antigua, have lunch in Rome with perfect strangers and be home in time for dinner with my Husband in Manhattan.”

Helpful Resources

Talking Parents
Helping Co-Parents Communicate Effectively
TalkingParents.com

Our Happy Divorce
One Powerful Story of Two Parents’ Happy Divorce
OurHappyDivorce.com

Restore & Grow
Therapy & Testing
ErinGrimesTherapy.com

Custody Queens
(833) 622-0001
help@custodyqueens.com
www.CustodyQueens.com

Blended and Black
A Community for Millennials in Stepfamilies
BlendedandBlack.com

VIP Stepmom
Every Stepmom needs a Tribe
VIPStepmom.com

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC
Southern California Family Law Attorneys specializing in Divorce, Estate Planning & Appellate Law
www.HBPLaw.com

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