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

When And How Can A Spousal Maintenance Award Be Modified?

Once an award of spousal maintenance (alimony) is ordered by the court, it may be modified if certain criteria are met. In order to modify and award of alimony, the party seeking modification obtains a court date and serves and files motion papers. Keep in mind that the modification, if granted, is usually only retroactive to the date that the motion papers are served on the other side. For that reason, it is important to obtain legal assistance … Read More

Podcast: Spousal Maintenance: Factors Considered By The Court

The Family Law Show returns with an overview of spousal maintenance (alimony) awards under Minnesota law. Alimony is an emotionally-charged issue, with significant financial implications for both parties. The spouse asked to pay rarely wants to, while the spouse asking for support usually needs it. What is the Court going to do? Topics discussed in this podcast include the role fault plays in an alimony award, the factors the court will … Read More

Judge Stephen Halsey’s Minnesota Family Law Blog Highlights Alimony Award In Light Of Non-Marital Pension Benefit

In December of 2009, Minnesota Judge Stephen Halsey (chambered in Wright County) launched his Minnesota Family Law Issues Blog, a terrific resource for both lawyers and litigants. As I understand, Judge Halsey's blog is the first of it's kind in Minnesota (from the judiciary). His unique perspective provides an interesting addition to the exchange of family law information online - including podcasts. Judge Halsey's post entitled Post-Decree … Read More

How Does The Court Determine An Appropriate Amount Of Alimony?

Spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is one of the more difficult issues to tackle during the dissolution process.  With the exception of child custody, no other issue is as personal or emotionally charged to divorce litigants. It is quite difficult to predict exactly how much spousal maintenance the court will award a particular party.  The court will examine a host of factors, and each play a part in the decision-making process.  … 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