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David R. Hartwig, Esq.
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IMPORTANT DIVORCE DEFINITIONS

CUSTODY, PARENT-TIME, and VISITATION: 

Utah has been moving away from the emotive words "custody" and "visitation". Instead the courts and statues use the general term "parent-time" to discuss both custody and visitation. 

"CUSTODY:" (CustodyWhile Utah recognizes several custodial arrangements, there is a tendency to phrase everything in terms of "joint custody".

Sole Custody means that one parent has full physical and legal custody the child(ren) and makes all of the decisions regarding the child(ren)'s lives. The other parent has specified parent-time with the child(ren).

Joint Legal Custody means that both parents make joint decisions regarding major issues affecting the child(ren), though there usually one parent who ultimately has control. Joint legal custody does not affect the physical custody of the children.

Joint Physical Custody means that the parties share physical time with the child(ren), including overnights. This arrangement normally requires that the parents live in the same town or general area. 

Either form of joint custody works best when the parents are able and willing to work together to address the needs of the children.

If joint custody is sought, a parenting plan must be filed with the court.

"VISITATION:" (VisitationUtah has a number of minimum "standard schedules of parent time," which address midweek contact, alternating holidays, overnight visits on alternating weekends, and extended parent time, all depending on the age of the child(ren). 

The court can order more than the standard schedule, or less in unusual circumstances. 

Parties can vary from the standard schedule and create any schedule of visitation they deem appropriate for their and the child(ren)'s needs, but care needs to be taken to ensure both parties agree, and the agreement is approved by the court.

CHILD SUPPORT: (Child SupportUtah has enacted Child Support Guidelines or schedules that are used by the courts to calculate a parent's child support obligation. A support obligation is paid and determined based upon the parties' respective incomes.

Separate, but related issues, include determining health care coverage for the child(ren), and sharing of those costs; work related daycare; and in the case of any joint custody, the payment of other needs of the child(ren).

ALIMONY: (Alimony)In determining alimony, the courts consider the financial condition and needs of the recipient; the recipient's earning capacity; the ability of the payor to provide support; the length of the marriage; and, other fact-sensitive issues.

DIVISION OF PROPERTY and ASSETS: (Assets, and Retirement)Any property or assets acquired during the marriage, including a house, will usually be divided equitably between the parties. Premarital, inherited or gifted assets are often awarded to the person who received them if they did not bring them into the marriage. This includes all financial accounts such as retirements, bank, saving, and trusts. 

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I am David R. Hartwig, Esq., a Salt Lake City attorney with extensive experience helping parents resolve simple or high-conflict custody issues reaching arrangements that work for children and parents. Child custody involves parent-time and visitation schedules, and can affect support. I help in all of these areas, providing comprehensive service clients need to achieve their custody goals.

Factors In Child Custody Decisions

As an experienced Utah child custody lawyer, I understand that custody cases may become a contentious issue even years after an order is finalized. The trend in Utah toward joint custody often creates messy, unworkable situations, which ultimately lead to enforcement issues when parents do not abide by their custody orders.

The best interests of the child must be considered, including:

• Whether joint legal or physical custody will benefit the child's physical, psychological and emotional needs, or the child's development

• The parents' ability to give first priority to the child's welfare, and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest

• Whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

• Whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce

• The distance between the parents' homes

• The parents' maturity and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents

• The parents' ability to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly

• Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping

• Any other factors the court finds relevant

Despite the complicated and sensitive nature of custody matters, I have helped many clients successfully establish custody orders.

Get Help With Your Child Custody Issue

If you have a child custody issue, please contact me, David R. Hartwig, Esq. I am an experienced Salt Lake City custody lawyer dedicated to helping clients resolve complex custody issues and implement necessary custody orders. For high-conflict cases, I am also one of the few Utah child custody modification attorneys trained as a Special Master for ongoing dispute resolution.


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