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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.


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.

What Family Courts Must Understand About Children with ASD

Changes in how autism is defined means more children more eligible for diagnosis. Efforts in professional communities in the past 15 years have improved our understanding of ASD. More children are being evaluated, there are more avenues of support for children and their families. Subsequently, professionals working in family law courts have more exposure to children with ASD as well

Infidelity & Divorce in California

Why Is It Important To Maintain Civility With Your EX?

Is marriage forever? For the lucky few, yes. Unfortunately, however, the reality is a significant amount of marriages end in divorce. Many relationships end because one or both spouses have been unfaithful. When infidelity occurs, it can make an already tough situation worse, especially when there are children involved. This is because, rather than completely parting ways, parents still have to spend many years, if not a lifetime, co-parenting, interacting with one another, attending events, family gatherings, and the like.

How The California Court Weighs Infidelity During The Divorce Proceedings

In dissolution and child custody proceedings, it may be tempting to assume that such unfavorable behavior would give the “cheated on” spouse an unfair advantage, financially, with respect to parenting time, and otherwise. It may come as a surprise then to find out that, generally speaking, infidelity will not have much of an impact on your divorce and child custody matter. This is because California is a no-fault state.

In California, divorce and legal separation are generally based on “irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.” This ground is pleaded generally which means that you do not have to “prove” fault to obtain a divorce. In very rare instances, divorce and legal separation can be based on “permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.” Thus, informing the court that your spouse cheated on you will not get you very far. The court will not award you additional support or time with your children because your spouse was unfaithful.

The Specifics Matter – Make Sure You Consult With An Attorney

On the other hand, disclosing this information to the court may hurt you, at least with respect to child custody and visitation. This can occur if you start bashing your ex to the court. A court may, in some cases, feel that you are not co-parenting. This is because although health, safety, and welfare concerns regarding your children are relevant to custody proceedings; your spouse’s ability to stay faithful is not. Please note, you should always contact an attorney regarding the specifics of your case. Even though California is a no-fault state, your divorce attorney may hear other facts in your case that you may be able to use to your advantage.

3 Tips For Parents Communicating With Their Former Spouse

How To Maintain Communication For Your Child’s Sake

Ideally, parents will work together to amicably raise their child and will consistently make decisions based solely on the best interest of their child. Unfortunately, however, most parents struggle, at least to some degree, with “co-parenting”. The first thing to break down when working to raise a child in two separate homes is communication. The below are some helpful tips to consider when communicating with your ex regarding child custody and visitation matters.


When co-parenting with your ex, it is important to stay focused on the relevant issue at hand, namely, your child. You should not make a practice out of bringing up issues regarding your ex’s personal life unless there is a strong nexus to your child’s safety or wellbeing. Bringing up irrelevant information may, in some instances, result in an unfavorable ruling in your family law matter.


Being disrespectful to your ex, even when it is deserved, will rarely if ever, help your case. While “telling your ex off” may feel good at the time, it is crucial to understand that this correspondence may come back to hurt you in the future, possibly in the form of an exhibit for the Judge to review. Moreover, even if your ex does not bring this information to the court’s attention, it is likely that you will have made your co-parenting relationship worse.


If you have a legitimate concern regarding the health, safety, or welfare of your child, it is important to bring this information up to your ex immediately, preferably in a written correspondence. While it is hopeful that you will not have to go to court over the issue, it is important to create a written record in the event that your ex refuses to work to resolve this issue, and you have to move forward to get relief from the court. On the other hand, if your ex brings up a safety concern regarding the child to your attention, it is important to address that concern, even if it is an irrational one. Blowing off your ex will show the court that you are not willing to co-parent.

Please note, the above are just a few tips and things to consider when co-parenting with your ex. It is important to discuss the specific issues of your case with a trusted family law attorney.

What Becomes of Your Furry Friends When the Love Ends

Addressing the Issues of Pet Custody During Divorce

What Becomes of Your Furry Friends When the Love EndsConsider the following: A couple meets, gets married, and adopts a companion animal. All is well…until it’s not, and then one party files for divorce. What happens to their pet?

This is an all too common dilemma and the answer is that it depends.

The easiest resolution occurs when one party acquiesces to the wishes of the other. Often, the responsibilities associated with pet ownership will deter the less interested party from pushing the issue. In addition, considerations regarding the pet’s welfare will hopefully persuade the parties to develop and effect the best solution for the animal.

The scenario becomes more complicated when both parties want custody of their pet. To be clear, in California, the term “pet custody” is a misnomer. No matter how antiquated it seems to those who love animals (author included), companion animals are treated as personal property under prevailing legal opinion. The perspective offered by Joyce Tischler, the Director of Litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, is grimly apropos: “In the eyes of the law, they are really no different than the silverware, the cars, the home.” This means that if a couple adopts a pet during the marriage, the animal is considered community property, and each party has an equal “interest” in the pet.

Fortunately, many courts have adopted a more humane and conscientious approach when considering this issue. When a divorcing couple becomes embroiled in a bitter “pet custody” dispute, the court will often look to a variety of factors in determining which party should receive custody of the animal, including, what is in the best interests of the companion animal, who has current possession, who has the means to properly care for the pet, and, if there are children, what is in the best interests of the kids in regard to companion animal placement.

Family law litigants should avoid using the pet custody issue as a “power play” move to keep the other party from winning possession of the animal. This type of conduct reflects poorly upon the antagonistic party, and may affect how the court determines other issues in your case, such as child custody and visitation. More importantly, it is not in the best interests of your companion animal. Just don’t do it.

Pet owners should remember that divorce causes stress for all involved, including their companion animals. Watch for behavior changes in your pet, including, loss of appetite, loss of energy, increased incidence of accidents, etc., and show your furry friend some extra love during this difficult period. The companionship will be healing for the both of you.

Visitation Rights - My Child Doesn't Want To See Me

You are finally granted visitation rights and visiting with your child is supposed to be a time to look forward to. But, what do you do when your child doesn’t want to see you? You can’t force a child to visit with his or her parent.

Your child’s refusal of visits can be because:

  • You are not tuned into his or her interests
  • Your child is very young and anxious about separation from the custodial parent

The following can be helpful:

  • Talk to your child – see why he or she doesn’t want to visit with you
  • Assure your child that you love him or her
  • Explain what happens during visits
  • Allow your child a week or so without visits

If your child doesn’t want to leave their primary home, have a heart-to-heart talk with your ex-spouse. The problem might be an easy one, such as paying more attention to your child or having more toys at your home.

If you are concerned about your time with your child and need some good advice about next steps, contact the experienced Orange County family attorneys at the Holstrom family law offices to discuss your options.

7 Deadly Sins of Co-Parenting

Parenting is hard, but co-parenting is even harder. You start co-parenting right after a messy divorce and you’d rather be a million miles away from your ex, but instead you’re coordinating drop off schedules. Although it can be challenging, blogger Valerie DeLoach offers the following seven deadly signs of co-parenting to avoid in order to successfully raise your kids:

  1. Wrath: This is the sin that causes many of the others. You might feel justified, but remember that it’s your kids who will most likely suffer when they have to also deal with your wrath. If you have uncontrolled anger, you need to seek help.
  2. Greed: In co-parenting, this usually means you’re trying to “win.” That’s a selfish, greedy mentality. There is no winning. Your kids won’t benefit from you “winning” most of the fights, so be above the greed.
  3. Sloth: Are you failing to follow the court order? That might just be a sign of laziness and it’s a failure as a co-parent. You will be held accountable to all legal documents, so put the energy in to make sure you’re doing what needs to be done.
  4. Gluttony: Put your needs behind the needs of your kids. Somehow this tends to be harder as a co-parent, but it’s just as important. In fact, it may be more important.
  5. Envy: Envy is a tough one to control. You may envy your ex’s new relationship, the fun your ex is having with your kids and not you, or many other new circumstances. Focus on being happy with what’s currently in your life.
  6. Pride: This most commonly occurs when you fail to see what your ex brings to the table. When you view yourself as twice the parent he/she is, you’re being prideful. And you may unintentionally try to force those views onto your children. Practice humility. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
  7. Lust: An intense desire for money, control or power can all be considered lust. And in co-parenting there are a lot of possibilities for lust. A successful co-parenting relationship requires communication, compromise and self-reflection.

Co-Parenting Dos and Don’ts

Parents divorce or separate and then try to figure out how to still be the best parents they can be. We know it’s not black and white, but if only there was a list of right from wrong. Good news—now there is! We’ve shared the below Dos and Don’ts from Dr. Phil regarding co-parenting:


  • Remember that you’re only in charge of your own life. You can’t parent for your ex, just as much as you can’t live his/her life. Take the high road and worry about yourself.
  • Always put your children first. Almost every interaction with your ex will probably affect your children in some way, but that’s easy to forget at times.
  • Set boundaries and make sure that your relationship with your ex is limited, but healthy.
  • Set a specific plan for parenting that works for both of you, and most importantly, will work for the kids.
  • Tell you ex the things they’re going to hear. For example, if you’re dating someone new, your ex would rather hear it from you than the kids.


  • Don’t talk poorly about your ex, and expect him/her to do the same. Nothing good will come from that.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions or assume that your ex is always the ‘bad guy.’ If a situation arises that your children tell you about, discuss it with him/her before you take action.
  • Never use your children as pawns. This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many Orange County parents we’ve seen do it.
  • Don’t ask your children to pick a side- you’ll end up looking like the bad guy.

Have more questions? Give us a call today about how we can help you!


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.