We understand issues concerning family law can often lead to dramatic life changes.
Our firm offers our clients understanding, assurance and an advocate during these challenging times.
We specialize in family law matters, including marriage dissolution (divorce), legal separation,
child custody, child support, property division, spousal maintenance (alimony), paternity actions, adoption and prenuptial contracts.
While our focus is on protecting our clients’ rights, we strive for cost-effective and a cooperative resolution. We don’t promise you the world. In fact, we will probably tell you some things that you were not prepared to hear about divorce, both good and bad. You will be facing some tough decisions over the next few months. We know that you need a lawyer who will treat you with honesty and integrity throughout the process.
Marriage Dissolution and Divorce
As Minnesota is a purely no-fault divorce state, the only ground for divorce is the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. Neither party has to prove marital misconduct or fault. When you decide to divorce, it is important to protect your rights. It can be a complex process of dividing assets, child custody, and child and spousal support.
Many divorces can be resolved amicably with both parties cooperating and arriving at a settlement that meets both of their needs and protects their children. In those cases, costs can be kept down and the timeline take only four to six weeks. Disputed divorces that go to court can take six months to years to complete.
Our attorneys strive to make sure the division of any assets and ownership interests are divided fairly, including a home, business, bank or other financial accounts, pensions, stock rights, vehicles or other property, as well as individual or joint debt.
With more than 20-years of experience, we will work closely with you through every step of the divorce process to achieve the best resolution possible.
For couples who do not want to end their marriage for religious or other reasons, legal separation still requires agreement over key issues.
Individuals can seek to have their marriage annulled, in essence declared null and void. This can be a difficult endeavor, but important to select individuals.
We often utilize mediation and arbitration before resorting to traditional litigation. We maintain a network of experienced mediators, evaluators, appraisers and experts in order to adequately settle our client’s case.
Child Custody and Parenting Time
Questions about a child’s custody can be the most difficult part of a divorce. Custody centers around determining which parent or parents will have legal and physical custody. And this necessitates decisions regarding the schedule and involvement that each parent will have with their children.
Legal custody gives a parent the authority to make decisions about how to raise the child relative to health care, religious training, education and general welfare.
Physical custody gives a parent the authority to determine where the child lives and how their routine day-to-day activities are structured.
Both legal and physical custody can be the sole responsibility of one parent or shared as part of a joint custody arrangement agreed to by the parents or determined by family court.
Minnesota courts make custody determinations based upon what is in the best interests of the child:
- The wishes of the child’s parents
- The child’s primary caretaker
- The level of intimacy between each parent and the child
- The interaction and inter-relationship between the child, each parent, siblings and others who may affect the child
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and the community
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
Once a custody determination is made, it’s often difficult to modify the terms absent major changes in circumstances.
Emergency Changes in Custody Agreements
If you are in a situation where your child is endangered, it is critical to speak with a family lawyer immediately regarding your options for protecting your child. If you fear for the safety of your child, it is important to act quickly in order to protect their best interests. Allow our team to explain your options and protect your family.
Grandparents’ and third-party rights
Under certain conditions, the law gives grandparents and third parties a chance to seek visitation rights or custody. We also advise grandparents seeking to remove a child from a hazardous home environment, as well as couples seeking to grow their family through adoption.
In every divorce with a child or parenting time case, the issue of child support needs to be determined. Minnesota law establishes a guideline amount for child support based on the income of the parents, the amount of time spent with the children, the number of other children from other relationships, and the costs of daycare and medical insurance, among other factors.
When parents are divorced or otherwise no longer living together, it is important to make sure that the needs of their children do not fall through the cracks. It is important to make sure there is an appropriate child support arrangement in place to ensure their needs such as food, shelter and clothing are met.
Minnesota has a statutory formula for determining how much child support will be paid. A number of factors are considered, primarily the income of each parent as well as the specific needs of the child. While the formula is straightforward, it is important to make sure that the income being examined is accurate and that clear information is being provided.
Often, fully informed parents can resolve child support disagreements quickly and effectively. However, if there is a need to deviate from the formula or other disputes are present in your case, it is to your benefit to have our experience on your side. If the case involves a party who receives bonuses or deferred compensation, is commission based, is self-employed, or is voluntarily underemployed, our team advocates for the appropriate child support that should be awarded.
Spousal Maintenance or Alimony
If your divorce will include seeking, or disputing a request for, spousal maintenance, there are some things you will need to understand. No two courts in the Twin Cities area view alimony the same way. A legal strategy that may work in Scott County could fail miserably in Ramsey County. Alimony in Minnesota involves complex financial issues and formulas.
Circumstances where a child is born outside of marriage creates questions of paternity. The establishment of paternity in such situations is important because it can affect child custody, parenting time and child support. As a result, paternity actions can be used to establish who is responsible for the child so that both parents can realize the full extent of their rights under the law.
Our lawyers know what it takes to prevail on behalf of both the mother and father in the event paternity remains a looming question. We have represented mothers in filing paternity actions, and in establishing child support. We have represented a father’s rights to custody and parenting time based on the best interests of the child.
When there is a significant change in your circumstances, it may be possible to modify an already existing child custody order.
There are numerous circumstances that could call for a modification to your custody agreement. When a parent wishes to move out of state due to a new job or other life event, custody can be re-examined. Further, if one parent has lost or gained a job and now has a significantly different income level, a child may be better off with a modified agreement. Other examples that could call for a modification include medical emergencies, special needs of the child and even the child’s wishes. The most important thing to remember is that a court will always look to what is best for the child first.
Whether you are wishing to enforce your current agreement, or you need to modify your situation to protect the best interests of your child, we can help.
Post Decree Enforcement & Modification
Family law courts issue orders for spousal maintenance and child custody and support during a divorce proceeding. Such orders require that one party execute specific duties or retain certain rights after the divorce. In the event one party fails to comply with the terms of a court order, unnecessary hardship can be inflicted on the other party. Our team is called upon to advocate our client’s rights in matters where enforcement becomes necessary, such as in the event of a failure to pay child support or alimony, or deviating from custody or visitation arrangements.
Our team has proven successful in influencing the court to determine that the other party has been delinquent in his or her responsibility under the divorce decree, resulting in a repayment of the debt owned and/or significant penalties. We have also been called upon to navigate our client through claims of unemployment or underemployment in order to avert or lessen support payments.
We have been involved in post decree modifications involving an ex-spousal increase or decrease in income due to a promotion, job loss, medical condition or remarriage. We have also successfully executed revised agreements involving divorced parents where one wishes to relocate to another city or state, or the other desires to alter custody or visitation responsibilities.
Our attorneys understand when it is appropriate to be tough, and when it is important to compromise in order to prevent the escalation of serious acrimony within a family. On most occasions, we are able to execute a new agreement through careful negotiation and without having to resort to litigation. However, if a post decree modification goes to court, we stand ready to assert our client’s position when and where we are needed.