Minnesota is a "no-fault" divorce state, and has been since the mid 1970's. Typical issues involved in a divorce include custody, child support, property division and spousal maintenance. While some divorces come to conclusion following a trial, the vast majority of cases resolve outside of the courtroom.

Divorces are stressful affairs. The process brings a flurry of emotions: sadness, frustration, regret, and even anger. Dealing with these emotions in a productive manner promotes good mental health and may even help your case in the long run. Learn how to process your emotions the right way.

1. Take a Beat

Tempers can flare. Take a moment to process the situation before opening your mouth. Count to 10 if you’re mad. Count to 100 if you’re furious.

2. Forgive

It will be easier to let go of your anger—and move on—if you forgive. Forgiving your soon-to-be ex-spouse will make divorce proceedings more amicable.

3. Find a Distraction

Do something that makes you happy. Even amicable divorces have their moments. Make time for yourself: watch a movie, take a cooking class, start running, or try a new hobby. Having something to look forward to will take the edge off your anger and help you avoid depression.

4. Keep a Journal

Distractions may take the edge off your anger. Your negative feelings may not abate completely. Write about what’s bothering you on a regular basis. You might find the flow of the pen on paper cathartic.

5. Don’t Deny Your Feelings

Denying or repressing your anger is a recipe for disaster. It will only return more forcefully later. Acknowledge your anger, and take steps to address it. Seek counseling if needed.

6. Do Some Breathing Exercises

Take a deep breath… or two, or three. Deep breathing exercises can quell the storm inside you. Add some relaxing imagery. Recall or visit a place where you were at peace and happy.

7. Talk It Out if You Can

Talking is sometimes the only thing that can make the anger go away. You may want to talk to your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Do so carefully. An attorney may advise you to avoid speaking to the other party until after the divorce proceeding. Listen to your legal counsel and only have the conversation when the time is right. Keep a level head if you do decide to talk things out. Use the above tips during your conversation.

Need insight from an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer? Call our team for a free consultation at 763-323-6555.

Blame it on television, movies, or messy celebrity splits — divorce has a reputation for being a contentious, litigation-based affair, with little room for compromise. Those who have not navigated the divorce process may envision couples screaming and yelling at each other in the courtroom as the judge tries in vain to keep the peace.  Thankfully, this level of divorce drama is no longer a reality for most couples, as mediation allows spouses to complete divorce proceedings in a calm, mature manner.

How Does Mediation Work?

The ultimate goal of mediation is to keep divorce out of the courtroom. Instead of a judge looming over the case, a third-party mediator is hired to act as a peace broker. The mediator listens carefully to both spouses as they voice their concerns, and, from there, offers detailed feedback and possible solutions. A skilled mediator can thereby make the divorce process feel more like an amicable bartering session than a messy courtroom battle.

Mediation and the Science of Cooperation

Millions of years of evolution have convinced people that competition is always better, whether in the classroom, at work, or in divorce court. This impulse can be difficult to overcome, but as Harvard University Professor of Biology Martin Nowak points out, there is great value in ignoring the competitive instinct and opting for cooperation. In his book “SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed,” Nowak explains that successful cooperation often involves a “tit for tat” approach, along with an emphasis on generosity, forgiveness, and optimism. Mediation incorporates all three qualities — and that’s exactly why so many couples exit the mediation process feeling satisfied with the results, despite having made certain concessions.

Mediation works well because it calls upon spouses to be their best selves, even in the face of significant disagreement. When spouses work together, they can achieve favorable outcomes, all while keeping the stress and anxiety associated with divorce to a minimum.

If you choose to settle your differences with your ex through mediation, you can still retain legal counsel from a trusted Minnesota family attorney. Look to the Brown Law Offices, P.A. for compassionate counsel.

We’ve all heard of the “seven-year itch.” It’s the time when couples get bored in a relationship and crave something new. Is there any credence to this idea, or is it just another old wives’ tale? Leading experts in human psychology say there’s no simple answer.

Austrian philosopher and Rudolf Steiner created the “seven-year itch” theory. He theorized that we experience life in seven-year cycles. We experience seismic changes in physical and intellectual experience. We’re more likely to have instability in our relationships and divorce. The theory was so popular that it led to the production of a Marilyn Monroe movie of the same name in 1955.

Some think the seven-year itch is the result of raising children through the infant years. It’s a time that takes a toll on the relationship. Others think it’s simply the average time those annoying habits become intolerable.

The Which Year Itch?

Wright State University psychology professor Larry Kurdek conducted a study in 1999 that found both the four- and seven-year itch may be true. It concluded that couples tended to experience two periods of decreased marital quality: once at the four-year mark and another at the seven-year mark. Parents of young children were more likely to experience a rapid decrease in marital quality.

Another study in 2010 found that couples were most likely to divorce at the 12-year mark. The study analyzed information from 90 law firms. It found that most couples spent a decade together before going their separate ways.

Then the parenting website Netmums conducted a survey in 2012 that examined the relationship between parents. Nearly half of the 1,500 respondents said that having a child drove them apart. Parents were most likely to split at the three-year mark as opposed to the seven-year mark. The website’s founder hypothesized that ticking biological clocks rushed couples into marriage. The couples later realized that they weren’t right for one another.

So Who’s Right?

The mixed results of each study indicate that divorce can happen at any age. Couples who don’t prioritize their marriages are more likely to divorce than those who do. Your relationship may fall apart if you don’t spend time working on it.

Ending a marriage at any stage touches off an emotional storm and raises lots of legal questions. Call a compassionate, seasoned Minnesota divorce lawyer today at 763-323-6555 for a private consultation.

You’ve filed for divorce. It’s a process that can take plenty of time even when uncontested. Your lawyer will likely advise you to avoid contact with your ex at this time, but checking in on them on social media can be tempting. Resist the urge to check his or her Facebook page: it’s unproductive emotionally, and it may even affect your case.

Social media is a useful tool for many things, but it’s made divorces more difficult. It means we have to see our ex’s posts every day. Lawyers may even scour your Facebook page for incriminating information. For example, say you’re in the negotiating stage of spousal support, and you’re posting information about your latest shopping acquisitions. Lawyers could use such posts as evidence of disposable income.

Use these the following good social media habits during a divorce:.

Watch What You Post

If you’re feeling frustrated about the latest blip in your divorce proceeding, it can be quite tempting to vent on Facebook. Such an act may negatively affect your case. Join a private support divorce group, or talk to friends privately. It’s healthy to talk through your emotions but not in a public medium.

Keep your soon-to-be ex-spouse and children out of all your status updates. Refrain from commenting on your days in court or any communications from the other side. Post about other things. Save your arguments for your lawyer and the courtroom.

Check Your Privacy Settings

Block your soon-to-be ex-spouse on Facebook and other social media outlets to avoid temptation. Such an act will prevent you from seeing his or her status updates. It also prevents him or her from finding you. Check your privacy settings on all social media outlets to see who can find your page and what information is available to the publicpublic— – and  lawyers..

Step Away From the Computer

Divorces are emotionally trying proceedings. Checking Facebook constantly won’t help you feel better. It may actually make you feel worse. Get away from your virtual friends, and start spending time with your real world ones. Get out of your house for a night: see a movie, get dinner, or organize a game night. Socializing with others will take your mind away from your current situation. Sitting at home and posting on social media will make you yearn for what you’re missing.

Learn what you need to do to obtain the outcome you need and to avoid complications as you separate from your spouse. Our qualified Minnesota divorce lawyers offer free consultations: call us now at 763-323-6555.

Just as finances can be a major source of contention in a marriage, they can be even more so during a divorce. Disentangling your ex-spouse’s finances from your own may be no simple task, especially with shared assets like home and vehicles, or with shared debts. This process can be even more complicated with an uncooperative ex, or one who happens to be fiscally irresponsible.

You might be tempted to avoid or procrastinate the task of financial disentanglement, but resist this temptation to protect both your assets and your credit. Some of the details of dividing larger assets will obviously be worked out during the divorce settlement negotiations, but for now, here are some steps you can take now to begin disentangling your ex-spouse’s finances from your own.

Set up your own bank accounts

If you haven’t done so already, open up a basic checking and savings account in your own name, and start paying bills and depositing paychecks into that account. If you still hold joint bank accounts with your ex, close these accounts as soon as possible, but do not attempt to withdraw funds without talking to your divorce attorney first, as these funds may be restricted until a divorce settlement is reached. When it comes to your own income, however, you should gain sole control of these funds as quickly as possible.

Separating credit card accounts

For any revolving credit card accounts you share with your ex, take these steps now to begin the disentanglement process:

•    Close any joint credit cards you have with your ex-spouse as soon as possible. This protects you from being held responsible if your ex decides to go on a shopping spree.

•    De-authorize your ex on any credit cards for which you are the primary cardholder.

•    Disentangle from joint cards with existing balances by opening up new cards separately and performing balance transfers. You and your ex will need to agree to how much of the debt each of you should pay, but once that’s decided, transferring those balances to your own individual credit cards will start the process of separating your shared credit history—plus, you won’t have the added worry of making sure the joint cards are being paid on time.

For larger assets like homes, cars and shared business interests, disentangling your finances will be a more complex matter reserved for the divorce settlement negotiations. But taking steps now to separate finances on a smaller scale can help you get a head start on financial stability as a single person.

Child custody is a complex issue. When parents dissolve a marriage, if they can’t agree on whom the children will live with, then the court must decide. How is that determined? Several factors are considered.

•    The most important concerns are the interests of the child. Historically, that weighted a court’s decision in favor of the mother. In recent years, gender equity has shifted legal priorities.
•    If either parent relinquishes custodial rights or requests the other parent have sole custody, then that is considered.
•    Where things get sticky is when both parents insist on having sole custody. In that case, the court must settle the matter. Often, the decision boils down to which parent is better able to provide for education, medical attention, a suitable lifestyle, and connection to the family religion.

Factors include:

◦    Finances – Which parent has the better job, most stable employment, and/or highest income or savings?
◦    Living Situation – Has either parent remarried, or is there another romantic partner in the picture? What kind of living conditions will the children be subjected to? Has one of the parents moved out of the area?
◦    Religion – Who is better able to provide stable religious training? If parents are of different religions, have they chosen to educate the children in one religion over the other? If one parent is religious, and the other isn’t, the court may consider that in light of other factors.
◦    Dangers – Has either parent been convicted of a crime or abused drugs or alcohol? Are there other concerns, such as a history of abusive behavior or a volatile home environment?

Courts rarely award legal custody to step-parents; however, it does happen. All things are considered in light of the best interests of the child.

Are you fighting for custody of your children? Contact an experienced Minnesota custody lawyer at 763-323-6555 for a private, confidential consultation.

It can be daunting to think that the biggest decisions regarding your divorce could come down to the opinion of one person: your divorce court judge. His or her verdict could be the final word on such matters as distribution of assets, financial responsibility, custody of the children, etc. Gaining the judge’s favor can make a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce, but persuasion is a subtle art. How do you persuade your divorce court judge without trying too hard? Let’s take our cue from six people considered masters at the art of persuasion.

1. Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears—by listening to them.”

When the person you’re trying to persuade feels like you’re listening to them, he/she is naturally inclined to reciprocate. Wise words from a man who was Secretary of State during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

2. Benjamin Franklin, American statesman

“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”

Presenting a rational argument isn’t always enough; “appealing to interest” has more to do with reading between the lines and learning to speak the other person’s language.

3. Edward R. Murrow, American journalist

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”

Honesty is a key to any persuasive argument. If the divorce court judge believes for a minute that you’re hiding something, your chances of favor dwindle considerably.

4. Thomas Carlyle, British essayist

“Let one who wants to move and convince others, first be convinced and moved themselves. If a person speaks with genuine earnestness the thoughts, the emotion and the actual condition of their own heart, others will listen because we all are knit together by the tie of sympathy.”

Personal conviction in your appeal is a key to persuasion. In a word: be genuine.

5. Blaise Pascal, French philosopher

“People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found out by others.”

The takeaway here is to present the facts in such a way that the judge arrives at the same conclusion you did.

6. Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States 1861-1865

“If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend.”

Spoken by a man who convinced a deeply divided Congress to ratify the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the United States.

Throughout his election campaign, President Trump repeatedly promised to crack down on illegal immigration—a promise recently reinforced by statements to the press in the aftermath of terrorist acts abroad. This naturally raises the question of how a stricter immigration policy would impact international divorces. If you recently obtained a green card by marrying a U.S. citizen, does filing for divorce present a greater threat to your current legal immigration standing, or to your current immigration process?

The short answer is no—your divorce will not likely jeopardize your immigration status any more or less than it would under current laws. However, under tightened immigration rules, your international divorce might come under greater scrutiny to ensure the rules are being followed. Let’s offer some perspective to understand this issue more clearly.

International marriage and divorce rules are already strict.

Since fraudulent marriages are one of the most common tactics for illegal immigration, any international divorce automatically raises some red flags with immigration authorities, especially if the marriage is less than two years old. If you have been given conditional residence due to marriage and you divorce before being granted permanent residency, you will most likely be asked to leave the country—and likewise if there is sufficient evidence that the marriage was a cover for immigration. This reality is unlikely to change under a Trump administration because immigration officials already closely monitor international marriages and divorces.

Proposed immigration crackdowns are focused at the point of entry.

According to the incoming Trump administration, a stricter immigration policy would focus primarily on Muslim immigrants from nations with higher rates of terrorism. As controversial as this proposal is, it focuses mainly on the point of entry—that is, whether a person will be allowed into the country to begin with. If you are already married to a U.S. citizen and then divorce, you’ve already been granted entry, so you wouldn’t necessarily be affected by these tightened rules. There’s no guarantee that you wouldn’t come under greater scrutiny if one or the other spouse is Muslim, but neither is there any indication that divorce would put you at greater risk of deportation than you are under current laws.

Regardless of how a stricter immigration policy would impact international divorces, navigating the waters of immigration and divorce can still be very tricky, and you shouldn’t attempt it without a skilled attorney’s advice. Contact our offices for an initial consultation.

When you’re going through the pain and difficulty of a divorce, the last thing you usually want to think about is forgiveness. Unless your break-up is especially amicable, you are likely nursing more than a few offenses against your ex right now. However, once the divorce is complete, the last thing you want to do is hold onto that excess baggage. As we’ll see from some of the inspirational quotes below, extending forgiveness after divorce can be a key to moving on with your own life.

1. Sometimes our demand for justice turns into self-inflicted pain:

“If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.” ― Shannon L. Alder

2. Putting your divorce into perspective can help you forgive. See it as a correction, not a punishment:

“Your relationship may be “Breaking Up,” but you won’t be “Breaking Down.” If anything your correcting a mistake that was hurting four people, you and the person you’re with, not to mention the two people who you were destined to meet.”  ― D. Ivan Young

3. A wise word of caution against being vindictive in divorce court:

“Divorce is one of the most financially traumatic things you can go through. Money spent on getting mad or getting even is money wasted.” –Richard Wagner

4. This quote reminds us that forgiveness doesn’t enable the other person; it enables yourself:

“Forgiveness is not the misguided act of condoning irresponsible, hurtful behavior. Nor is it a superficial turning of the other cheek that leaves us
feeling victimized and martyred. Rather it is the finishing of old business that allows us to experience the present, free of contamination from the past.”
–Joan Borysenko

5. Wise words from Tyler Perry about moving on:

“When you haven’t forgiven those who hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward.” –Tyler Perry

6. Finally, how do you know when you’ve forgiven? Here’s a clue:

“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.” –Lewis B. Smedes

While it’s not often talked about, divorce can be just as traumatic for a blended family as it is for any other family. Tight bonds often form between half-siblings, as well as between children and step-parents, all of which can make splitting up a blended family very painful for all involved. To complicate things even further, many times the children in a blended family have already been through a divorce with their biological parents, so the mesh of extended family is now even more complex. If you’re in the process of divorce within a blended family, here are some tips for keeping things as clean, composed and civil as possible for the sake of all involved.

Don’t Fight in Front of Children

No matter how severe the rift between you and your ex, keep it between the two of you. Involving your children or step-children in your disagreements only puts unfair pressure on them to divide their loyalties and take sides.

Be on the Same Page with your Ex Regarding the Split

As far as breaking the news to your kids, explaining the reasons for the divorce and how the split will take place, both of you need to present a united front. When the parents have different versions of what is happening, it only adds to the confusion and pain.

Encourage Open Dialogue

Just as with any other divorce involving children, the kids should have the freedom to ask questions, express emotions and process what is happening. This open dialogue is all the more important with a blended family because the children aren’t just processing a split between two biological parents; they’re processing a possible separation between half-siblings themselves. If tight bonds have been formed, the pain is likely to be more acute.

Encourage Ongoing Relationships

When a blended family is established and new relationships form, those relationships should not be jeopardized or cut off just because you and your spouse are separating. Stress to the children that even though they may not be living together in the same house anymore, they are free to maintain friendships and relationship with each other and with their step-parents, if they so desire.