Former San Francisco Court Commissioner Publishes New Book and Offers Tips for Weathering the Holiday Child Custody Schedule

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Agatha Hoff puts her keen eye for detail and wry sense of humor together in this collection of essays about her years as a San Francisco Court Commissioner. Seeing many separated and divorced parents come before her in court, she has some expert tips about how to make it a happy holiday for all.

The holidays can be especially tough for separated and divorced families, as author and former San Francisco Court Commissioner Agatha Hoff knows well. She presided over family and traffic court cases for over 20 years, and shares a behind-the-courthouse-curtain view with readers in her new book of essays, Judge* Hoff, Jesus Loves You but the Rest of Us Think You're an A**hole!.

The book title was taken from a disgruntled litigant's message for Commissioner Hoff, left graffiti style on the courthouse bathroom wall. Agatha saw the humor in it, but realizes that stressful situations often bring out the worst in people. The holidays are no exception, especially among families trying to navigate separate households and custody schedules.

An example in her book of a tactic to avoid, is the mom who insisted on picking up her child at 12:01AM, since she had custody on Christmas day, despite the fact the child would have to be shuttled in the middle of the night.

"This was a clear example of someone trying to get back at an ex," says Agatha, "and not caring about how it affected the child."

Agatha offers her top tips for sharing custody during the holidays:

1) Keep the focus on what's best for your child/ren. Even if doing that may inconvenience you or increase your loneliness, remember that it's not about you or your (ex)spouse. You're the adult and you need to deal with it.

2) Do not use your child/ren as weapons. Your (ex)spouse may be your worst enemy, but s/he is your child/ren's parent and always will be.

3) Do not use your child/ren as messengers. It's unfair and stressful to ask children to be the communication link between you and your (ex)spouse. Make sure the adults have a straight line of communication, either via phone, email, text or in person.

4) If you are in the throws of an acrimonious dissolution (or even if you're not), think about signing your child/ren up for Kids' Turn, a wonderful non-profit organization which helps children through the process of their parents' divorce (

You want to be able to look yourself in the eye come January, and feel good about how you helped your child/ren have the best possible holidays, under what for all of you are tough circumstances.

Judge* Hoff, Jesus Loves You but the Rest of Us Think You're an A**hole! is a collection of essays about the author's life in and out of court, and is available on (

About the Author
Agatha Hoff was hired in 1981 by the San Francisco Municipal Court and presided in Traffic Court for 13 years. In l994, she became a Superior Court Commissioner and was assigned to Family Court, where the litigants’ problems were thornier but equally varied. Now retired, Agatha is an avid long distance bicyclist, riding 5,000 miles a year. When she’s not bicycling, she is writing. Her novel, Burning Horses, a Hungarian Life Turned Upside Down, was published to critical acclaim in 2010.


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