What are the Differences Between Judges, Family Law Referees and Child Support Magistrates?

In Minnesota, family law matters are typically handled either by a family court judge, referee, or child support magistrate.  There are minor variations in the legal authority and responsibilities of each such official, and there is also some variation in the types of cases that they preside over.  Most family court hearings in Minnesota are presided over by judges. A family court referee may get involved, but only in certain counties that … Read More

Contempt in Minnesota: Consequences of Ignoring Court Orders

The court is responsible for controlling the conduct that occurs within its doors, but also has to deal with issues outside of the courtroom when it comes to family matters. It is typical for a contempt motion to be made in a family law case when one party has violated an order of the court, such as an order to pay child support, spousal maintenance, or a parenting time arrangement. The contempt rules are rather strict, in an effort to … Read More

The Parties, The Lawyers, The Judge And Uncle Sam: The Key Players In Most Divorces

Many divorces involve alimony, child support and the division of assets - all of which involve taxation issues. Litigants tend to overlook the impact that these provisions will have on their taxes. As lawyers, however, we consistently take the tax consequences into account in determining what is fair and equitable under the circumstances. Alimony payments are considered income for the person to whom the payments are made, and are deductible to … Read More

What Is An FENE…And Why Do They Work?

More and more Minnesota counties are providing divorce litigants with an opportunity to resolve their financial issues through a process known as "Financial Early Neutral Evaluation." Settlement success rates in the FENE model are astonishing - as high as 75% in some jurisdictions. An FENE involves a half-day session (or two, or three, or four) with a court-appointed neutral. This neutral typically is an experienced family law attorney, or a … Read More

Harrison & Hannah: Two With An Interest In Taxation

Tax season is in full swing. Thanks to Jeanne Hannah, Michigan divorce lawyer, for her summary of the IRS tax resourcesthat may be of interest to current, and former, divorce litigants. Hannah's recent post provides links to the IRS forms and publications that address an individual's filing status, exemptions, tax interceptions and claims for innocent spouse relief: IRS Publication 504: Divorced or Separated Individuals; IRS Form 8379: … Read More

Podcast: Navigating Minnesota’s Child Support Maze

The Family Law Show is back with an easy-to-understand summary of Minnesota's child support laws. Of the issues involved in a divorce, child support is the most black and white. That is not to say, however, that there are no shades of gray. Topics addressed in this podcast include basic child support, medical support and childcare support, the modification of child support, the relationship between parenting time and child support offsets, … Read More

Minnesota Child Support In A Nutshell

In January of 2007 the Minnesota child support guidelines underwent significant changes. Prior to the enactment of the present legislation found in Minnesota Statutes Section 518A, child support was based soley on the income of the obligor (the paying parent). Today, child support is based upon the relative income of both the obligor and obligee (the receiving parent), taking into account the nature of the physical custody of the minor children … Read More

New Child Support Guidelines Still Not Satisfying Many

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently published an article about the Minnesota child support guidelines that were amended as of January 1, 2007. Seems no one is happy with what was sold as a more equitable approach to calculating child support, despite the legislature's goal of reducing acrimony among split parents. Reporter Jean Hopfensperger provides examples of mothers who are upset about the reduction in support received and writes … Read More

Can My Spouse And I Deviate From The Minnesota Child Support Guidelines By Agreement?

Many couples question whether they can deviate from the Minnesota child support guidelines by agreement. While the court ultimately has discretion to do so, it does not happen very often. In fact, we've had orders kicked back because our stipulated support calculation was off by as little as $5.00 per month. Courts consider child support the "child's money," and, as a result, rarely afford parents the ability to unilaterally negotiate a different … Read More

“I’ll Quit My Job” Says My Spouse. Can They Get Out Of Paying Child Support Or Alimony To Me?

The court will "impute" income if your spouse is voluntarily underemployed. Rest assured, you have nothing to fear. Let's suppose your spouse is trained as a physician and decides, for the time being, to work as a waiter at a local restaurant. The court can take an individual's education, work history, job opportunities in the local market and earnings associated with those jobs into account in calculating appropriate child or spousal support. … Read More