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David R. Hartwig, Esq.
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Divorce Conflict? How to pick a Special Master?

If you are reading this, then you know that a Special Master can be used in situations where there is high-conflict in a divorce or custody case; or after the case, if the conflict continues or worsens. But, how do you find a Special Master.


Currently, in Utah, there is no official setting or honorarium. Almost anyone can hang out their shingle and claim to offer Special Master services. Most often, these people are attorneys. But that alone may not make a Special Master.


Having admitted that there is no controlling authority presently, I believe a Special Master should have experience in family law; receiving advanced training in Parenting Coordination, and the special issues and difficulties on parenting coordination; maintain a professional relationship with a national or international society dedicated to studying and resolving family law conflicts; and, maintain that training and experience.


For example: I have practiced in the family law arena since 1986 (31+ years); I subsequently took the time, and spent the money, to receive training at Loyola College of Law on Advanced Issues in Child Custody, and Advanced Practice in Parenting Coordination, sponsored by the international Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC); I have attended additional training provided by AFCC; and, I am a member of that Organization. All of that Special Master Training has occurred over the past 10+ years. And, I have been appointed in a number of cases as a Special Master.


So, if you are experiencing continued family law conflict, and you are looking a a Special Master, these are the kinds of things I think you should look for.

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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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