The holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy, celebrations, and traditions. However, for those going through a divorce, it can be a dreaded time, filled with emotional pain, stress, and loneliness. And unfortunately, there is virtually no way to avoid being exposed to the constant ads, TV shows, billboards, and messages that highlight this “most wonderful time of the year,” making it all the more difficult. While going through a divorce during the holidays may, and likely will, be difficult, there are absolutely things you can do to lessen the emotional pain.

Give Yourself Room to Grieve

Going through a divorce is often compared to grieving a death. In many ways, the two are very similar. A good first step to take is to give yourself permission to grieve. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or however you may feel. Don’t try to push these feelings away. You are entitled to be emotional!

Give yourself some time and space to work through these feelings. To help get through these feelings, you may want to start journaling, working with a therapist, or simply venting to a trusted confidant who can offer support. You will get through it, and you will be okay. 

Focus on Doing What’s Good for You

While the holidays can be super busy and stressful, be sure to make time this holiday season to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health

The holiday season typically coincides with cold and flu season, and this year, COVID-19 cases are on the rise too. This, along with the stress of going through a divorce, can run you down and make you more susceptible to catching something. Be sure to take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, adequate exercise, and good nutrition (while of course enjoying some holiday treats)!

Mentally and emotionally, the holidays can be rough during a divorce, especially this year, when many are unable to be with friends and family. Make sure to take some time to do something for yourself, however you see fit. Maybe that means having a spa day at home, going for a long hike, or binge watching that popular Netflix show you’ve been dying to watch. Whatever self-care means to you, do it! If you feel good, you will be more likely to enjoy the holidays and bring more holiday cheer to others as well.

Surround Yourself with Support

 It can be tempting to crawl under the blanket and spend your first holiday without your ex sad and alone. There’s no reason to do that, though, and you are only punishing yourself. That’s not to say you can’t spend some holiday time alone, but don’t spend it all that way, if possible.

It is so important during the holiday times to surround yourself with supportive friends and family, especially while going through a difficult divorce. This year, it may be difficult to surround yourself with people in person, but even if it’s over FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype, it will help!

Spending time with family and friends can be a great distraction and can often help pull you out of a funk. And if you need a little extra help to get your holidays feeling merrier, be sure to ask for it—don’t wait for someone to guess what you need.

Identify Your Triggers

 When you are facing the holidays alone after divorce, it is crucial to try and identify what may trigger you, sending you into a sad, depressed, or hopeless state. And once you determine what that trigger is, try and avoid it! For example, if watching a specific holiday movie reminds you of your ex, don’t watch it! There are hundreds of other movies to choose from. If seeing cheery holiday TV advertisements brings up feelings of resentment, read a book instead (or, if you really want to watch TV, just mute it or turn it off during commercials).

Give yourself permission to avoid whatever it is you need to avoid, and don’t feel guilty for doing so. You need to do what’s best for you!

 Make New Traditions for Yourself

 With divorce comes so many changes. Some of these changes are uncomfortable, but some of these changes are good, and may perhaps even be fun. Be open to changing past traditions and/or adding some new ones. Any past traditions that were once wonderful, but now bring up negative emotions, can be done away with and replaced by new and exciting activities. Try and figure out what new tradition you can introduce this holiday season to keep things light, happy, and fun.

Also, consider buying yourself a holiday gift. Odds are, you won’t be exchanging gifts with your ex this year. Since your gift giving list has decreased by at least one, why not add yourself to the list? If you do, you’ll be able to buy yourself something that you know you will truly enjoy this holiday season.

Look for the Lesson Hold on to Hope

I recently read an article that analogized divorce to a great movie. It explained how in a movie, there are elements of suspense, sadness, joy, pain, and anticipation before the happy ending. The author explained that this is similar to divorce. There will be good times and bad, and while things may look down when you’re in the midst of it, eventually things will get better. It’s so true!

Another way that divorces and movies are similar is that they both have a lesson you may not figure out until the end. While it may be difficult, try and find the lesson through your grief. Try and figure out what you can learn through this painful time, and how you can grow from it. Figure out how you can change your outlook and think beyond your current situation.

Find the positives in this difficult situation, and really just in life. Remember what you have to be grateful for and strive to make each day great in whatever way you can. Before you know it, this difficult time in your life will be over, and you will find your happy ending.

By Logan Matura



At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar ,is a highly-skilled attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhatten, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal and child support, modification actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email through our website at   We look forward to hearing from you.

Working Dad’s Journal – Thoughts on Father’s Day

May 31, 1985

To My Little Girl (6 months old):

Since you were born, I have undergone a gradual transformation. What has changed is my entire definition of self – the way I view myself.  The change is imperceptible to others.  I look, dress, and act the same as I always have, but I feel different.

I had a beautiful childhood.  I felt safe in the knowledge that my parents loved me.  This was, for me, a protective shield.  My memories of those days are vivid and happy.  I can still remember jumping in bed with my dad on Sunday mornings and the way he would turn and smile and wrap me up in his massive arms.  I remember him lifting me gently and carrying me off to bed at night, and clinging to him, my head on his shoulder, pretending to be asleep.  I remember our baseball games in the backyard and how proud I was that my dad was the one teaching us how to hit, field, and throw.  I remember our man-to-man talks and how important I felt as my dad listened intently to my thoughts.  In my eyes, my dad was of heroic proportions, fearless and strong, yet kind and wise.  Today I not only remember those times with my dad, I feel them.

 Now I walk into your room.  It is dark and you are crying.  You reach for me and I lift you out of your crib and hold you in my arms.  You cling to me.  Although you are still whimpering, you smile.  I talk to you softly and turn to gaze into the mirror on your closet door.  Through the dim light, I look at myself and see my dad.

WORKING DAD’S JOURNAL – Letter to my six-month old daughter, 1985

  This morning your mother had a meeting, so I brought you to my office. I packed your diaper bag, dressed you, filled the car with the necessary items and off we went. You looked puzzled but I smiled and assured you that this would be fun. We would get along just fine without Mom’s help.

We arrived at the office and I had Anne, my legal secretary and a great fan of yours, hold you while I ran back down to the car. This was going to be a breeze. I swung the diaper bag around my back, hoisted the electric swing over my shoulder, propped the folded-up extra-large playpen under my arm and trudged up the stairs to my office, greeting fellow workers along the way. Once in the office, I set up the swing, unfolded the playpen, arranged all your toys inside, and placed the diaper bag in a convenient location. We were now ready to have fun.

You still looked bewildered as I lowered you into your playpen, but soon you were playing with your toys and I was at my desk, preparing for the day’s work. Then I realized that I had forgotten your jar of, baby food. “No problem,” I thought and, again placing Anne in charge of you, I jogged across the street to Safeway to purchase some strained squash. I returned to find your grandma in my office, smothering you with kisses.

“I’ll take her,” she offered.

“No thanks,” I replied. “I have plenty of experience taking care of my baby.”

“That’s true,” she said, “But not at the office. You won’t get any work done.”

“Sure I will,” I protested.

Grandma left. It was time for your morning nap, but although you were tired, you wouldn’t sleep. Instead, you were becoming fussy. I closed the door to my office, lifted you into my arms, and danced you around the room, singing softly. Thirty-five minutes later you were still fussy, and I was still dancing. “I’ll try feeding you,” I said. I placed you in your swing, tied a bib around your neck and opened the recently-purchased jar of strained squash. I fed you, careful not to spill food on your new pink jumpsuit. However, you were more interested in playing than eating, and it was only a matter of minutes before strained squash was all over both of us. When you had finished eating, I took you out of the swing, placed you on a pad on the floor, and grabbed a clean diaper and a change of clothes from the diaper bag. You were uncooperative. As I struggled to remove your diaper, you arched your back and flung your body to the side, like a wrestler determined not to get pinned. I held you down gently with one hand and, with the free hand, fumbled with your clothing. After some time, I finally succeeded in putting on your diaper and clothes. I breathed a sigh of relief — then noticed that your clothes were on backwards. Drenched in sweat and strained squash, I set about to remedy the problem.

In the end, you were even more exhausted from the ordeal than I was, and after what seemed an eternity you were finally asleep in my arms. I carefully placed you in your playpen and covered you with a blanket. I walked to the window and looked out. There was your mother coming up the sidewalk. I quickly sat down at my desk and began arranging papers, trying to look busy. The door opened and in she came, surprised to see my office the picture of serenity and you sleeping peacefully in your playpen.

“Gee, I’m impressed,” she said. “It looks like you have everything under control.”

“No problem,” I replied.



Gary J. Frank is an Arizona attorney and former Judge Pro Tem with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorce, custody, parenting-time, and support issues in Family Court.  To schedule a legal consultation with Mr. Frank, you may contact us by email at [email protected], or through our web site at

 The issues in this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice in your particular case, nor should it be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship.  Every Family Court case is unique.  If you have a matter that appears similar to any of the scenarios that you read in this blog, you should be aware that: (1) even a slight difference in a factual situation can lead to a vastly different result; and (2) the laws are constantly changing and new laws are continually being enacted.  Legal advice cannot be given without a full consideration of all relevant information relating to your individual situation.  Therefore, if you have an important legal issue, you should obtain a consultation with a qualified attorney.  


A brunette with perfectly applied lipstick holds a single finger to her lips in a “shh” motion. Her beautifully manicured hands display a golden wedding band. Next to her are the words “Life is short. Have an affair.”
This controversial logo represents Ashley Madison, an online dating service and social networking site marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship. It offers affair guidelines and even provides advice on how to cover one’s tracks when pursuing an adulterous affair. In mid-August of this year, the identities of the 37 million users registered on the database were released by hackers. This release included data from customers who had paid a $19 fee to Ashley Madison to allegedly have their data deleted. Now, there are multiple online search engines allowing you to check if your data or the data of someone you know was leaked in the release.
As more high-profile names surface among the millions of users of Ashley Madison, speculation continues about the divorce consequences for the adulterous users of the site. It is a popular opinion that divorce rates will undoubtedly increase as more cheaters are exposed; but if they do, how will the matter be handled by the courts?
Actually, the consequences would have been greater under historical family laws, which governed a “fault” regime. For instance, back then, a divorce was only permissible if a spouse could prove one of several fault grounds; adultery was one of them. But today, in Arizona and many other states, a spouse can petition for a divorce without the necessity of proving fault on the part of the other spouse: Arizona requires only that the spouse cite an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  Thus, Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state.
In most divorces, property division and child custody are the primary concerns of the spouses. Under a “fault” regime, a cheating spouse may have had to pay in the property division or alimony award for an extramarital affair.  Today, however, Arizona and many other “no-fault” states do not consider who caused the breakdown of the marriage when dividing property; nor is “fault” a factor that the Court considers in determining spousal maintenance.  However, if the spouse implicated in the Ashley Madison leak misused marital finances (termed “community property” in the legal world), then economic fault can be a factor the Court considers in both the division of property and spousal maintenance. 
Regarding child custody (now called “legal decision-making and parenting time”), the court will rule based on what is in the best interests of the children. This is more of a “gray area,” or case-by-case situation, as it may be difficult to prove how the parent’s sexual activities negatively impacted the best interest of the children.  If it can be shown that a parent’s inappropriate behavior directly affected the children (such as taking them on dates, or exposing them to the paramour, etc.) then it is possible that the Court would consider the parent’s conduct in making a “custody” award.

If the Ashley Madison hack had happened in a previous era of family law, the evidence obtained would have been much more useful in initiating divorces and awarding assets to the “victimized” spouse. However today, due to the dominant “no-fault” regime of the United States, even if a spouse wanted to initiate a divorce based on the data from the Ashley Madison hack, it is unclear whether it would have much of an effect; since, aside from embarrassment, the cheating spouse would almost assuredly suffer less financial and custodial consequences than in earlier times.

G.Frank & J.Chen

Gary J. Frank is a Family Law Attorney, a litigator, and a mediator with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorcepaternity, custody, and parenting issues. For many years he acted as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which gave him an insight into the inner workings of the courts that many attorneys lack.  In addition to representing Family Law clients in litigation, we are also willing to help people by working with them on a Limited-Scope or Consultation-Only basis.  Our office is located in the Biltmore area of central Phoenix, with satellite offices in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona.  We can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at [email protected].  You can also reach us through our website at  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, contact us today.  We’d be happy to help.


A person came into my office the other day for a “second opinion.”  And he asked me this:

“My attorney advised me that for my custody trial next month, I should cut my hair, trim my beard, and trade my T-shirt and jeans for a nice shirt and slacks.  I find that advice insulting.  I’m a good guy and a good parent, so why should it matter?”

Here was the answer I gave him:

“I believe you, and I would accept you just the way you are.  On the other hand, I’m not the one holding your fate in his hands.  Your future as a parent is in the hands of the person in the long, black robe – the Superior Court Judge.  

It’s true that we should never form an impression of others based upon appearance alone – but people do it all the time.  It’s human nature.  And judges are human.  Some judges may not be concerned about your appearance – but other judges might.  There are judges who view it as disrespectful when a litigant walks into the courtroom in jeans and a T-shirt.   If you happen to appear before a judge who feels that way, then you could find yourself “behind-the-eight-ball” before you ever open your mouth.

So, why take the chance?   

Your lawyer gave you good advice.  It’s probably not because the lawyer doesn’t like the way you look.  It’s because your lawyer is your advocate and he or she wants to assure that you do everything possible to make a good impression on the Court. 

Here’s myadvice . . . It’s up to you, but before you make your decision, keep this in mind:  Like it or not, the judge is the person who has the power to determine your fate, and your children’s future.”
Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients.  In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court.  This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective  that most attorneys lack.  He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes.   We handle a full range of Family Law matters, including divorce, custody, legal decision-making, parenting time, spousal maintenance, child support, division of property and assets, modification and enforcement actions, as well paternity/maternity cases, grandparent or non-parent custody and visitation actions, and relocation/move-away cases.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at; or by email at [email protected]   We’d be happy to help you.


On November, 22, 1963, I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom in Phoenix, Arizona when a voice came on the intercom informing us that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.  The children sat in stunned, frightened silence at the news.  Some began to cry.  Some became panicky.  I remember turning to my best friend, Steve.  Tears were streaming down his face.  I stood up, walked over to the window, and looked out.  The scene may have been the same one I witnessed every day but now our President was dead and I was peering out into an uncertain future.
John F. Kennedy was the first U.S. President of the television age.  He was young, handsome, athletic, and charismatic.  He had a beautiful wife and two children – one of them, Caroline, was just my age.  In 1963, John F. Kennedy was a national hero.  An inspiration.  A rock star of massive proportions.  And now he was dead, killed by a sniper’s bullet.  Our world was shattered.  For us, the age of innocence was over.
Two days later, I was sick (or at least convincingly pretended to be) and my mom let me stay home from school.   I recall turning on the television.  TV was still a fairly new medium, and most shows were broadcast live.  On this day, a special news report was on the tube.  Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was being transported from the jail.  I watched as a handcuffed Oswald came down a long, narrow corridor toward the camera, accompanied by two jailers on either side of him.   All of a sudden, a man in a dark suit and fedora hat burst into the picture.  He stuck a gun in the prisoner’s gut and fired.  Oswald went down.  Then there was bedlam.  People were running in every direction.  Some of them jumped on the man.   The television announcers were as surprised and confused as the amazed audience.  Lee Harvey Oswald, the President’s assassin, had just been killed on live television with millions watching, including one small eleven year-old boy in Phoenix, Arizona.

Almost all Americans who were alive during that time remember where they were when they heard the news of President Kennedy being shot.  Many of them recall witnessing the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who killed the President.  Fifty years later, conspiracy theories abound regarding who was actually behind the assassination.  Was it simply one deranged man?  Was it the Mafia?  The CIA?  Russia?  We’ll probably never know, because when Lee Harvey Oswald went to his grave, the truth went with him.

Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients.  In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court.  This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective  that most attorneys lack.  He is also a fair and compassionate mediator of Family Law disputes, with many years of experience.   Our law firm handles a full range of Family Law matters, including divorcecustody / legal decision-making, parenting-time, child support, spousal maintenance, division of property and assets, modification and enforcement actions, as well paternity/maternity cases, grandparent or non-parent custody and visitation actions, and relocation/move-away cases.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at; or by email at [email protected]   We’d be happy to help you.


When you walk into a courtroom for your divorce or custody trial, you are literally placing your future, and everything that is important to you, in the hands of a stranger.  The judge doesn’t know you, but over the next few hours she/he is going to listen to your testimony and consider the evidence you present – and weigh it against the testimony and evidence presented by your opponent.  Then the judge will make a ruling that could alter the course of your life in a good way – or maybe a not-so-good way.
Obviously, having an experienced, skillful attorney is critically important.  But is there anything that you, personally, can do to increase the odds of winning your case?  The answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Here are five tips for making a good impression in court:
1.         DRESS NICELY:      All your life, you’ve heard about “the importance of making a good impression.”  It has been repeated so often that it has pretty much become a trite phrase.  But ignore it at your peril – because that old, worn-out saying happens to be true.  Judges are human.  Your judge will form an impression of you, and the initial impression might be based on your appearance.  Whether that is fair or unfair – right or wrong – doesn’t matter.  It’s a fact.  So, why take a chance?  Dress nicely.  You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) look like you’re ready for a walk down the “Red-Carpet” – that would be overdoing it.  Just a clean, attractive attire is sufficient.  Something a judge would see as appropriate and respectful.  Why should you care?  Because it is the judge who will decide your fate.
2.           BE PREPARED:     There is no substitute for being prepared when you take the witness stand.  In Arizona, Family Law cases are tried to the judge.  In other words, your judge will be acting as both judge and jury.  The Family Court judge’s role is not only apply the law, but also to determine the facts.  You can increase your odds of prevailing by being well-organized and well-prepared.  If you are represented by counsel, your attorney will assist you in preparing for your case.  He or she should spend a great deal of time, before the trial, discussing your objectives, and preparing you for your testimony, so that you can effectively tell your story.  The attorney should also prepare you to withstand the opposing attorney’s cross-examination.  If you are well-prepared, you will be more confident, and you will be much more likely to create a good impression.
3.         BE ATTENTIVE:        Paying attention to the proceedings, and listening to what the attorneys and the judge are saying, can give you an important edge in your court case.  Trying to follow what is happening in the courtroom can give you important clues into what the judge is thinking, and the type of evidence that he or she is looking for.  When you know how the judge is leaning, or what she/he wants to hear, then you can make adjustments “on the fly” and tailor your presentation to achieve the best results.  Not uncommonly, it is the client who picks up on something important that her (or his) ex- says on the witness stand – and by pointing it out to the attorney, the client might be able to change the outcome of the case.  An attentive and engaged client can help the attorney immensely.  So be attentive.
4.         CONDUCT YOURSELF APPROPRIATELY:       How you conduct yourself in the courtroom can determine whether you win or lose.  Keep in mind that throughout the proceedings, the judge is sitting up there on the bench looking down at the participants — and watching you.  Your attorney may be making a strong legal argument, but if you are slouching in your chair, signaling to a spectator in the gallery, sending a text message on your cell phone, not paying attention, or acting in a manner that the judge feels is inappropriate, you are undermining your lawyer’s efforts to represent you.  There is one particular type of behavior that judges roundly hate:  and that is when a client sits at the table and makes faces as the opposing party testifies from the witness stand.  If you think that vigorously shaking your head or laughing derisively will help the judge understand that the other party is lying, you are dead-wrong.  This type of behavior is much more likely to turn the judge against you.  So when in the courtroom, conduct yourself appropriately at all times.
5.         CREDIBILITY IS THE KEY.            The most important asset you have in a court case is your integrity and your credibility.  Where two parties to a litigation are telling stories that are contradictory, a judge will tend to rule in favor of the litigant that is the most believable.  Have you ever watched Judge Judy, or another of the TV judge shows?  While those shows are not at all similar to a real court case, there is still something that can be learned from watching them.  The lure of these shows is that when you are watching the people present their cases, it is as though you are seeing the matter from the same perspective as the judge.  Two people come before the Court.  Each has a completely different story and we, the viewers, are the “trier of fact.”  We know that one of the parties is twisting the facts, but we don’t know which one.  We listen intently and try to determine the truth.  If one of the parties is caught in a lie, or if a party is unprepared and doesn’t seem to be consistent in reciting the facts, then we start thinking that this person cannot be believed.  On the other hand, if a party is well-organized and appears sincere, we tend to lean in her favor.  In the end, we will rule in favor of the person who seems to be telling the truth.  And that is what the judge will tend to do in your Family Law case.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of telling the truth; of being well-prepared; and of dressing and acting appropriately and respectfully.  It all comes down to credibility.  When you step into that courtroom, make sure that you are the one the judge sees as being the most credible and believable litigant.

Hiring a strong, experienced attorney to represent you is important — but always keep in mind that you and your lawyer are a team.  You can help yourself, and increase the odds of winning your case, by simply making a good impression.

Gary J. Frank is a litigation attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorce, custody, and parenting issues. Mr. Frank has served on the Governor’s Task Force for Prevention of Child Abuse, and has received a Volunteer Lawyer award from the Maricopa County Bar Association for his work with children. For many years he acted as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which gave him an insight into the inner workings of the courts that many attorneys lack. He can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at [email protected]; or through his website at If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to contact us today.


I am leaving in a few minutes to attend the investiture ceremony for Arizona’s newest Supreme Court Justice, Ann Scott Timmer.  Judge Timmer was my first law clerk while she was still a student at Arizona State University School of Law.  Upon graduating from law school, she went on to work for a prestigious law firm in the Phoenix area.  After proving her worth as an attorney, she became a Maricopa County Superior Court judge and, later, was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.  Now she will be a judge on the Arizona Supreme Court, making decisions of great import to our state and our country.

Judge Timmer has excelled at every level, and I’m confident that with her on Arizona’s highest court, we are all in good hands.  Congratulations Judge Timmer.

Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients. In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court. This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective that the majority of attorneys lack. He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at; or by email at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you.


Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful under the best of circumstances.  But for a divorced parent, or someone going through a custody dispute, the holidays can be a grueling experience.  The good news is that there are proven strategies that can help make the holidays bearable and . . . (dare I say?) . . . even fun.  Here is my Top Ten List for getting through the holidays:
1.         Plan in Advance
            Going into the holiday season with your parenting plans up in the air can be a source of stress not only for parents, but for the children, too.  Solidifying your schedules well in advance – and letting your children know what to expect – will allow parents and children to relax and look forward to their time together.  Planning in advance is the best way to avoid conflict, misunderstandings, and arguments. 
            Last-minute shopping is a also recipe for stress.  Slogging through traffic, searching in vain for parking spaces, and jostling masses of shoppers in malls and stores is not my idea of enjoying the “holiday spirit.”  Avoid desperation shopping.  Shop early.
2.         Be Flexible
            During the holidays, things can change on a moment’s notice.  A child gets sick.  Family comes into town unexpectedly.  The other parent calls and wants the kids for a special, but unscheduled, activity.  All of these things are sure to make the Stress-O-Meter rise.  Learn to go with the flow, when possible.  Doing so will make for a more relaxed you.  You might find that being flexible, or even spontaneous, is fun.
3.         Keep It About The Kids
            Divorced parents sometimes become so embroiled in their own problems that they can forget that the holidays are about the children.   Remind yourself every day that the children are your top priority.  They deserve a fun holiday, one that they will always remember – and you have the power to make it happen.  So, keep the children out of the middle of your adult holiday disputes.  Make an effort to communicate and compromise with the other parent.   Never badmouth the other parent in front of the children.   Let your kids look forward to their time with both parents.  Remember:  It’s all about the children.
4.         Enjoy Alone-Time
            The thought of spending time alone over the holidays can be frightening and depressing.   You may have never dreamed that you would be separated from your children during the holiday season.  But you will survive.  You might even find your time alone to be a nice break from the normal holiday chaos.  Look for ways to relax and enjoy yourself.  Staying home with a good book can be refreshing.  Hiking in the mountains, walking, riding a bicycle, or going to the gym may renew your spirit.  Attending a party, or meeting a friend for dinner or a movie, could be fun and exciting.   You will learn to relish your alone-time.  And the kids will be back before you know it. 
5.         Connect with Friends
            The holidays are a great time to connect with friends.  Plan a holiday party and invite your friends; or accept an invitation to another’s party.  Get together with a friend to go shopping.  Or simply pick up the phone and call a friend.  Friends are a blessing.  They are a source of enjoyment and support.  Just what you need to help you get through the holidays.  Connecting with a friend can help you to re-connect with the real you.
6.         Make New Family Traditions
            During the holidays, we tend to spend a lot of time trying to give our children the same wonderful experiences that we had when we were young.  Often, this is difficult or impossible.  For a divorced parent (or any parent, for that matter) trying to re-create the “holidays of old” only leads to stress and disappointment.  So, what the heck!  Try something new!  Make your own unique family tradition.  Take a ride around the neighborhood at midnight, looking for Santa.  Let the kids make Christmas dinner (hot dogs and pizza?  Sure, why not!).   Use your imagination.  Be creative.  Give the kids their own loving memory that they will always cherish.
7.         Exercise!
            I recently read that the average person gains 7 to 12 pounds during the holiday season.  Don’t be a couch potato.  Take some time out of every busy day to exercise.  Not only will it keep you in shape, but exercising will kick in the endorphins and give you a sense of well-being that will last throughout the entire day. 
8.         Avoid Toxic People
            The holiday season can be stressful and depressing enough on its own.  Spending time with people who put you down – or bring you down – will only make it worse.  So, to the extent possible, make an effort to avoid (or reduce the time you spend with) toxic people. 
9.         Stay Positive; And If You Need Counseling, Get It
            Self-talk is sometimes the enemy of happiness.  Listen to the things you say to yourself.  Pay attention to the messages you send to yourself.  You might find that that the data you are inputting into your internal computer (your brain) is undermining your own well-being.  So, eliminate the negative.  Try focusing on the positive.  When you catch yourself lapsing into negative thinking, stop, delete the negative message, and insert a positive statement.  For instance, if you hear your internal voice saying:  “I’ll never get my Christmas shopping done!”– delete that statement and insert a new message:  “I’ll get as much done as I can today, and if I’m not finished, I’ll try again tomorrow.”   Putting a positive spin on things is a simple and easy way to maintain a good frame of mind.
If you are sad or depressed and just can’t shake the feeling, then get counseling.  A good therapist can help you work through the fear, anxiety, and conflicted feelings, so that you can get back to being confident and in control.
10.       Cut Yourself Some Slack
            If you are separated or divorced and trying to make it through the holidays, there’s a pretty good chance that you will be struggling with your emotions.  Why?  Because you’re human.  Just like the rest of us.  What you’re feeling is perfectly natural.  So, don’t try to be a super-hero.  Cut yourself some slack.  The holidays are tough . . . and you’re human.  You will get through this, and things will get better.
Happy holidays!

Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients.  In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court.  This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective  that most attorneys lack.  He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes.   We handle a full range of Family Law matters, including divorce, custody, spousal and child support, division of property and assets, modification and enforcement actions, as well paternity/maternity cases, grandparent or non-parent custody and visitation actions, and relocation/move-away cases.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at; or by email at [email protected]   We look forward to hearing from you.


Being a divorced dad isn’t easy.  You are now a single parent.  You no longer have another parent to lean on.  When the kids are with you, they are really with you.  That’s the tough part.  But it’s also the great part.  You have not only the responsibility, but the opportunity, to develop a loving and lasting relationship with the most important people in your life – your children.
Here are five tips to help you become the best dad you can be:  
1.            Listen attentively. 
When your children are talking to you, put down what you are doing, look them in the eye, and actively listen.  Show your kids that you care about what they have to say.  Let them know that they are important.
2.           Attend school conferences, open-houses, and functions. 
School is a big part of your children’s lives.  Going to school conferences, open-houses, and other functions shows your kids that their education is important to you.
3.            Learn what interests your child, and become interested in it, too.
Sharing a common interest is a great way to build a strong bond.  It gives you something fun to talk about, and to do together.  But many dads insist that their sons and daughters participate in activities that the dad likes, even after it is clear that the child is not particularly interested.  This can lead to stress and conflict.  Try doing things differently.  Find out what your child is interested in, and become interested in it, too.
4.            Create memories.
You don’t have to take your kids on an African Safari.  Creating memories can be simple and easy.  The most precious gift you can give your children is your time.  So, set aside some time to be with them on a regular basis.  Look for fun activities . . .  A hike in the woods.  A bike ride.  Playing catch.  A game of bowling.  An evening playing Monopoly. These are the types of things that create memories your sons and daughters will remember for a lifetime.
5.            Tell your children you love them. 
Don’t leave it unsaid.  Don’t make your children wonder.  Don’t assume they know.  Tell them you love them – and do it often.
Gary Frank has represented dads in divorce, custody, and parenting-time cases for over 30 years, and is a strong advocate for fathers’ rights.  Mr. Frank is an expert courtroom litigator, as well as a mediator, and a former Superior Court Judge Pro Tem.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding divorce, child custody, parenting-time, or any other area of Family Law, call us today at 602-383-3610; or contact us by email through our website at  We’re always happy to talk to you.

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