Interviewer: Are there any situations where there may be some sort of agreement during mediation that the court later says, No, you guys can’t do this?
Danielle Hawkes: Yes, for example with child support, parties, sometimes might come to an agreement about child support, but really that child support doesn’t belong to either of the parties, it belongs to the children and it’s really, the state has a very big interest in ensuring that child support is the right amount and that the provisions around it are accurate and enforceable. Because if one party isn’t paying child support, then often it’s the state holding tab with insurance, or something like that.
The State Does Not Appreciate it If Weird Modifications are Made to Child Support
So the state actually steps in and gets a little bit grumpy if we do too many weird things with child support. If we do something weird with child support, then we need to justify through affidavits and justify the reasoning as to why we are doing it and how we’re not trying to short the child out of any resources that they are entitled to but really we are just improving the child’s position with these certain reasons. So we just have to be able to support that, the way the court would want to see it supported.
The Attorneys of Both Parties In A Divorce Can Work Together in Resolving the Case
Interviewer: If I had you as my attorney, do you work, are you able to work with my spouses attorney as well?
Danielle Hawkes: Oh yes, absolutely. There are a lot of attorneys that work really well together in Utah and we meet right over the phone, we don’t wait for the court to give us a due date, we don’t wait for a mediation. We just go ahead and start working on the case and figuring it out together. We really can work in tandem and save the client a lot of money and heart ache. That’s not always the case and I have no control over what attorney gets picked on the other side, nor what the other party wants to do. But yeah, for those really great cases where you’ve got a line with two cooperative parties and an opposing counsel, who is cooperative, it really can be done without very much intervention from the court. The mediators or psychologists can really work together and get it done much cheaper actually.
There’s a Schedule for Minimum Parent Time, for Parties that Live Out of State or Away from One Another
Interviewer: What if one parent needed to move out of the state? Let’s say for work, for a sick family member, what happens in that case?
Danielle Hawkes: If it happens before the divorce is finalized, then we just need to come up with a plan that makes before we finalize the divorce. You know you can’t have a 12 year old child doing 50 – 50 over state line, it’s not possible. You have a teenager who wants to be with their friends and they have to go to school and things like that. So you have to make some sort of visitation schedule that is manageable for the child. The Utah code annotated 30-3-37 is a lot of insight into parents moving. There’s a schedule there that’s for minimum parent time, for parties that live out of state or away from one another.
If the Custody Arrangements Have Been Finalized then the Moving Party Needs to Give the Other Party 60 Days Advance Notice
If divorces are already final and custody arrangements are already final then if a parent decides to move, then they need to give the other party 60 days of notice and then that party has the option of asking the court for a hearing and in that hearing the judge will actually can reconsider custody and visitation and the judge can do a number of things; the judge can say that the party can move but that the children can stay here, switch custody over to the parent who is staying here. Or the judge can say well we can’t do 50 – 50 anymore and I think the party who is moving is the primary caregiver and if it’s in the children’s best interest to move, the judge could allow the children to move and then switch the visitation schedule which makes sense for a long distance situation like that. Again it’s going to boil down to what’s in the children’s best interest.