Interviewer: How long is the entire custody time sharing process going to take?
Danielle Hawkes: It depends on the party and it depends on how contentious the case is, it can take, we can hammer it out with parties who are cooperative, we can hammer it out in a couple of months. For parties who are not cooperating together, then it can take well over a year. It could easily take over a year.
Initial Preparation For a Child Custody Case in the State of Utah
Interviewer: What are some things a parent can do to prepare themselves, what are some of the documents they can gather or, what are some things that you are going to advise to them when they first meet with you when it comes to child custody?
Danielle Hawkes: When people come in to meet with me, they don’t need to have anything prepared. I can really put them on the right track and give them homework assignments to prepare and they don’t need to be prepared to come and meet with me. That being said, there is going to be a contentious, temporary order hearing or something of that nature. What I like to have is letters from people who know the situation, from a doctor, from a therapist, from neighbors, is there a grandparent helping with the care taking, if they can write letters and explain to the judge what’s going on. Is there a photograph of things that can be helpful. That can be very good, or hurtful too.
Any Detail that Can be Helpful in Amicably Resolving a Child Custody Case Should be Documented for Evidence
We need to know what we’re looking for as far as the whole case looks. Any evidence, it depends on the case. If there was a police report and you were involved, I need to have the police report and often times it is easier for my clients to get the police report than for me to get it, although we can get it, we’re happy to get it but sometimes our clients prefer to just try it so they can save themselves a little money. Police reports are very important, photographs, any audio, sometimes there is audio recordings of situations that happened that can be helpful, email and texts that have gone back and forth that show an understanding or show what’s going on, it can be helpful. Anything that is going to help explain what’s been going on and then one thing I also like clients do is write up a narrative, from their perspective of what the situation is. I think that can be very helpful for me and often times, I’ll turn that into a more formal declaration that we can present to the court.
The Issue of Child Custody is Typically Addressed in the Beginning of a Divorce
Interviewer: At what point of the divorce process is child custody going to be addressed, is it going to be the first thing or the last thing or somewhere in the middle?
Danielle Hawkes: Usually, it takes primary role when we work on it. Usually we address it with temporary order. We even address it over a phone call with the opposing counsel, we do that with temporary orders where the court can address it and then we can also do a mediation to address it right away because parents need to know where their kids are going to be. They don’t need to just sit and argue about where their kids are going to be. They need to actually know, so we’ll address it right up front.