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David R. Hartwig, Esq.
Family Law & Divorce
Attorney & Counselor at Law
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Establishing & Modifying Visitation

For more than 30 years I, David R. Hartwig, have advocated for clients seeking visitation (in Utah, “parent-time”) rights, or alterations to an existing visitation order. Children need to have regular contact with family members for many years after a divorce or separation is finalized. Extended families may also wish to ensure that they can spend time with a child whose parents are divorced.

I help parents, grandparents and other family members understand Utah parent-time laws and apply them to their individual circumstances and dynamics. As your advocate, I can help you obtain the legal rights to spend time with a child after divorce or separation; whether you were married or not.

What Are My Visitation Options?

With joint legal custody, both parents have the right to make important decisions about the child. Generally this works best with open communication between parents. If you have joint legal custody, you still may have:

  • Joint physical custody
  • Sole physical custody
  • Shared physical custody
  • Custody depending on the terms of your order

Most custody orders require that both parents cooperate on parent-time schedules to make sure they work. Often the custody orders will specify a schedule for parent time, usually the statutory provisions, being along the lines of:

  • Alternate weekends
  • One evening each week
  • A specific schedule for holidays and vacation times

The parties can agree to a different schedule, but that agreement should be in writing and filed as a part of the order. Doing this prevents future conflict and “he said, she said” arguments.

If the parents live more that 150 miles apart, then the so-called long-distance statute is put into place, again specifying dates and times for parent time.

The visitation orders should also include who does the transporting of the children, and where the pickup and drop-off will occur.

Changing A Visitation Schedule

Although your orders may be what you decided in your original divorce or paternity order, with time, you may now be experiencing increased difficulties or there have been changes or problems with the schedule and you wish to file for a modification. Modifying parent-time

What Happens When One Parent Moves?

When one parent moves a long distance away (in Utah, 150 miles or more), your parent-time orders may no longer work. You may want to move out of state for personal or work-related reasons. Utah usually requires that you give your ex-spouse at least 60 days’ notice if you plan on taking your child with you. That intended move will cause problems for the other parent, and you will need help in resolving the parent-time problems associated with your move.

Visitation For Grandparents

Grandparents in Utah may petition the court directly to request visitation (parent time) of a grandchild after the parents’ divorce or separation. Grandparents may also request visitation rights as part of other custody or visitation proceedings. A court may allow a modification to a grandparent visitation if it is in the best interest of the child, and one or more of the following circumstances are present:

  • The grandchild, the grandparent or parent, or guardian has had a major change of circumstance, or the current visitation order does not meet current needs
  • There is question as to whether the grandparent or parent is fit to have visitation or the guardian is denying or unreasonably limiting visitation
  • The grandparent has acted as custodian or the grandchild and grandparent have a “substantial relationship,” and severing this relationship would be harmful to the child
  • The parent has died or is no longer the custodial parent due to divorce or legal separation
  • The child’s parent is missing for an extended period of time

As a parent-time rights attorney advocate, I use my knowledge to help grandparents when they need to modify a visitation agreement.

De-Escalating Conflict

When individuals feel they need to access the courts to see a child or a grandchild, generally there is a certain amount of animosity or challenging circumstances. As an attorney, I am especially prepared to handle high-conflict matters and provide options for negotiating viable solutions for your visitation needs, or filing a petition, if required.

I am also one of the few family law attorneys in Utah certified as a Special Master, which means that I have extensive training in high-conflict situations. If I agree to be or am appointed by the court as a Special Master, I am prepared to handle high-conflict matters and provide input, and answers, based upon your parent-time order, while addressing your parent-time needs without the need of an extended court battle.

Get Help With Your Visitation Needs

As an accomplished attorney with more than 30 years of experience, I have helped reunite parents and grandparents with their children and grandchildren respectively and helped improve visitation through establishing or renegotiating parent-time agreements or orders. To learn how I can help you, contact me, David R. Hartwig, Esq., at 801-833-0822. I am conveniently located in Salt Lake City and help families throughout Utah.