Photo of Cynthia Brown

Cynthia Brown is a founding shareholder with the Brown Law Offices, P.A., a northwest Twin Cities divorce and family law firm. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia's practice focuses almost exclusively on divorce and family law issues. She publishes a monthly family law column for the Minnesota Lawyer newspaper, and has contributed to Divorce Magazine and The Family Law Forum. Cynthia also serves as a panel attorney for the Anoka County Family Law Clinic.

Spouses complain endlessly about in-laws, but not even divorce will end these gripes. Once your marriage ends, you may encounter a whole host of unexpected in-law issues, as outlined below:

Losing Your Second Family

If you were lucky, you enjoyed a strong relationship with your in-laws while married. You felt like accepted, or, perhaps, secretly preferred your in-laws to your own family. Now, members of that second family feel conflicted. You may see previously friendly in-laws displaying unexpected vitriol. In this way, your romantic split could spell the loss of several valued relationships. Unfortunately, there is little you can do beyond remaining cordial.

Pitting Your Children Against You

If your former in-laws spend extensive time with their grandchildren, watch out: their resentment could alter how your kids think about or act around you. Don’t return the favor by talking smack about your ex-in-laws while your kids are around; this is your opportunity to teach a lesson about taking the high road. If your former in-laws’ efforts infringe on your parental rights or visitation time, seek support from an attorney.

Encouraging a Contentious Divorce

Perhaps you and your ex prefer to resolve your differences through mediation—too bad your former in-laws don’t feel the same way. Vengeful relatives may encourage your ex to seek a more adversarial approach than originally intended. They may convince your ex that agreed-upon alimony or child support levels are unfair—or that your ex deserves a greater share of divided property. No matter which divorce approach you end up pursuing, your attorney can help you prepare for and navigate the process to achieve a desirable outcome.

Your approach to divorce could determine how much your former in-laws interfere with your new life. The Brown Law Offices can help you every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Regardless of custody and parenting time, divorce is bound to mess with your child care schedule. You may be forced to work extra hours to make ends meet…and when you’re not on the job, you can probably be found in mediation or court. If you don’t already have a nanny with plenty of time available to watch your children, you’ll want to find one sooner than later. Keep these strategies in mind as you begin this important search:

Ask Loved Ones For Recommendations

In an internet age, word of mouth remains one of your best tools for finding quality child care. Ask friends, coworkers, siblings, or even past nannies for recommendations.

Do Your Homework

If you seek a nanny online, take a close look at LinkedIn and other social media accounts. This will grant you a better feel for your future nanny’s credentials and conduct.

Aim For Consistency

As you seek a nanny, maintain scheduling and consistency as chief priorities. Your child’s routine will see enough shakeups as is; constant changes in nannies (or their timeline) will make this period more stressful than it needs to be.

Let prospective nannies know of your family’s situation. Be upfront about scheduling demands.

Including Child Care in Your Parenting Plan

If you work with your ex to develop a parenting plan, highlight nanny and babysitting arrangements as a key consideration. Your parenting plan can stipulate notification or even approval of new child care providers. Unless specifically specified in your plan, you’ll hold little sway in how your ex handles child care during his or her parenting time.

As you move forward with your parenting plan and other custody considerations, don’t hesitate to contact the Brown Law Offices at 763-323-6555. Our team will carefully guide you through every step of the custody process.

There’s no escaping it: your divorce will be tough on your children. While they may ultimately benefit from happier parents and reduced household fighting, any change this significant is bound to be challenging. Unfortunately, the trouble doesn’t end with emotional duress; your split could have a real impact on your kids’ academic pursuits both now and years in the future.

Struggles in Math

A 2011 study published in the American Sociological Review found that children of divorce struggled to keep up with their non-divorced peers in math. Unfortunately, these issues did not disappear after the divorce; children who fell behind their peers remained behind. Interestingly, researchers didn’t see kids suffer academically until their parents’ divorce was underway.

The silver lining? Children of divorce maintained similar reading scores, perhaps because reading does not rely on cumulative knowledge to the same extent as math.

Long-Term Effects

Divorce-related academic problems in grade school may lead to further issues in high school and beyond. In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25-Year Landmark Study, Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee reveal that adult children of divorce are less likely to graduate from college than their parents.

Researchers theorized that children of divorce were more likely to complete college in states that mandate child support until age 21, or for couples that planned for higher education in their divorce settlement. However, many students received support their freshman and sophomore years, but not their final two years of college. Unable to handle the financial burden, these students typically dropped out.

Careful planning can mitigate the potential academic issues associated with divorce. Call 763-323-6555 to learn how the Brown Law Offices can assist you in achieving favorable child custody and support outcomes.

It’s no secret that the divorce rate is higher for spouses with significant age gaps. But what happens when spouses of different ages decide to call it quits? The same problems that plagued them in marriage may prove evident during the divorce process.

The Realities of Retirement

Spouses at different stages in life may never see eye to eye on work and leisure, but retirement brings these differences to the forefront. Retirement may also spur financial challenges, both in marriage and divorce. The younger spouse may be dismayed by the other person’s sudden lack of income. Later, these changes play a huge role in alimony, property division, and other financial considerations.

Age Gaps and Custody

Occasionally, large age gaps between spouses may impact custody proceedings. In Minnesota, age is just one of several factors that might come into play when determining the best interests of affected children. Specifically, Minnesota courts examine “the willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time.”

While a spouse’s age may say little about his or her childrearing abilities, accompanying health issues or environmental factors could play a role. For example, courts may deem spouses with age-related chronic health conditions incapable of providing the quality of care their children require.

Age gaps can influence decision-making in marriage and divorce, but these differences don’t doom couples to courtroom drama. With strong legal guidance and the desire for a mutually beneficial outcome, couples can pull off a reasonably low-stress split, no matter their age.

As you face the realities of divorcing with an age gap, look to the Brown Law Offices for personalized legal service.

 

You’re determined to divorce your spouse. Unfortunately, this difficult decision only marks the first step in an even more challenging journey. Your relationship with your Minnesota divorce attorney may prompt a smoother path, but only if both sides communicate effectively. Keep the following in mind as you prepare for your first consultation:

Be Prepared

To communicate effectively, you need to understand your priorities and the basics of your situation. Do your homework before you meet with your attorney. Depending on your situation, this may mean outlining your goals or gathering financial documents. Your attorney will appreciate that you prepared in advance.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

There’s no room for embarrassment in an attorney-client relationship. Trust us — your lawyer has seen it all. Attempts to obfuscate the details of your divorce may feel more comfortable in the moment, but could ultimately cause huge problems. For example, in failing to disclose your ex’s abuse, you may compromise your ability to gain full custody of your children.

Know When to Ditch Minnesota Nice

As Minnesotans, we too often fall into the trap of being too ‘nice.’ In reality, our version of nice really means passive. While polite behavior is always admirable, meekness can be a problem. Don’t expect your attorney to read your mind; clearly state what you want, and why.

Don’t Overdo It

Your questions and concerns may seem pressing in the moment, but immediate contact with your attorney isn’t always the answer. Instead, take note of concerns that arise, and fill your attorney in at your next consultation. Save phone calls and emails for scheduling or settling the most urgent matters.

You don’t need Minnesota Nice in the courtroom; you need an attorney who will assertively represent your best interests. Look to the Brown Law Offices for loyal advocacy when you need it most.

 

 

ADHD’s not just for kids; experts estimate that four percent of the adult population in the United States lives with the disorder. Some mask symptoms well; others find themselves in a state of constant disarray. For many, this spills over into romantic relationships.

Your marriage is far from doomed if you or your spouse has ADHD, but it may require a little additional nurturing. Read on to learn more about the role ADHD plays in marriage (and divorce), and how you can protect your relationship.

ADHD and Divorce: The Statistics

At first glance, the numbers look grim for adults with ADHD: researchers point to a relationship maladjustment rate of nearly 60 percent. Likelihood of divorce varies based on the spouse’s age; in one study, older respondents with ADHD were twice as likely to divorce, while younger respondents saw little change in divorce likelihood.

Why Does ADHD Harm Marriages? What Can You Do About It?

As a spouse with ADHD (or married to somebody with ADHD) you’re by no means destined to divorce. However, you’ll face unique challenges that other couples easily avoid. Chief among these? Spats over cleanliness, missed deadlines, and general inattention. Non-ADHD spouses may assume that their significant other just doesn’t care. Those with ADHD are also more prone to impulsive behaviors such as drug use, gambling, or infidelity —all of which clearly cause marital conflict.

Research indicates that your marriage is far more likely to survive if you seek diagnosis and treatment. This doesn’t necessarily mean medication, although drugs prove helpful for some adults with ADHD. Others find greater success in therapy and behavioral changes (such as dietary restrictions or increased exercise). Both you and your spouse should research the disorder thoroughly to determine how it manifests itself in your marriage, and which steps can be taken to combat problematic symptoms.

As a spouse with ADHD, you need compassionate counsel from somebody who understands. Call the Brown Law Offices today to schedule your consultation; you’ll be relieved to have an understanding lawyer on your side.

Divorce brings out the worst in all of us. Unfortunately, in a digital age, the worst of us remains online indefinitely.

If you freaked out at your ex online, you’re in big trouble — records of your explosion could be used against you in court. It’s time to exercise damage control. These tactics will help you make the most of a bad situation:

Don’t Delete Your Account Just Yet

You’re mortified by your social media excess and eager to make it all go away. It would be so simple to press the ‘delete’ button. Proceed with caution. The damage has already been done. Tamper with your post (or worse, delete your account altogether) and you could be accused of ‘spoliating’ the evidence. Once you doctor published content, you’ll give the impression that you have something to hide. Your efforts could even lead to sanctions. Don’t edit or delete anything until you’ve consulted with your attorney.

Even accidental changes can cause problems. For example: in Katiroll Company, Inc. v. Kati Roll and Platters, Inc., the court claimed technical spoliation when a defendant merely changed his profile picture. Given the ease with which you can commit spoliation, it’s best to ask your attorney for guidance when in doubt.

Don’t Follow Up on Social Media

Want to make a bad situation worse? Keep the flood of information going on Facebook. Your efforts to smooth things over may actually harm your case. Don’t apologize online or try to explain your previous post.

Plan For Your Social Media Future

Learn from your mistakes. Don’t post anything else about your divorce. Other posts to avoid:

  • Any mentions of dating adventures or new relationships
  • Anything that suggests you have a lot of disposable income (such as images of new cars or pricey vacations)
  • Content that indicates your irresponsibility as a parent
  • Don’t lash out at former in-laws

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. team offers valuable insight into social media strategy during your divorce. Don’t let Facebook destroy your legal outcome — seek legal feedback at your earliest convenience.

The best spouses know how to listen. As you discovered in our last post, it’s not as easy as it seems. In this portion of our two-part series, we offer several additional resources to draw upon in your quest to improve your listening skills.

Psychology Today: Deep Listening in Personal Relationships

This article from Diane Raab explores the research on deep listening and how it can transform relationships. Raab reminds readers that listening is contagious —and that, while some people are natural listeners, this is typically an acquired skill.

Forbes: 10 Steps to Effective Listening

Let Forbes break down listening for you in the clearest and most concise manner possible. After this quick read, you’ll know exactly what it takes to be a good listener.

Dr. Phil’s Six Rules for Talking and Listening

When in doubt, look to Dr. Phil for help. In this Oprah.com feature, he offers tactics for becoming a two-way communicator. He insists on establishing your motive, telling it like it is, and checking in with your spouse on a regular basis. He offers clear examples of active listening, which can transform your relationship.

The Lost Art of Listening: How Listening Can Improve Relationships

Therapist Mike Nichols knows a thing or two about the damage caused by a spouse’s failure to listen. In his award-winning book, Nichols offers easy-to-learn techniques for amping up your listening game. You’ll learn the art of deep listening and apply it to every aspect of your life.

The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction

Grounded in the spirit of mindfulness, this transformative book will convince you to embrace the all-encompassing practice of listening. Implement its tenets into daily life, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly your relationships improve.

Listening is like a muscle; it takes time and effort to strengthen this essential ability. Commit yourself to being a better listener, and you just might avoid the pitfalls that ended your last relationship.

Don’t settle for an attorney who doesn’t listen to your concerns. The Brown Law Offices, P.A. is the perfect resource for your difficult situation. Get in touch today to learn more.

Effective communication is the foundation of any working relationship. It’s particularly important in marriage, and yet, many couples struggle to truly listen to one another. Thankfully, it’s possible to build this skill over time. If poor listening contributed to your marriage’s demise, take action now to save future relationships. These resources will help:

Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better

In this useful TED talk, sound expert Julian Treasure shares several quick fixes to improve conscious listening. Implement this actionable advice into your life ASAP to recalibrate your senses and improve your relationships.

The Power of Listening

Another TED presentation worth checking out: William Ury’s talk from TEDx San Diego. The co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, Ury understands the transformative impact listening can have in personal relationships and on a broader scale. This presentation will inspire you to join the listening revolution.

TED Radio Hour: The Act of Listening

When in doubt, turn to TED. This podcast and radio show compiles the best moments from talks on listening that…make you sit up and listen. After this podcast, you’ll understand how listening can transform your life.

Tony Robbins: Skills For Every Relationship

Inspirational guru Tony Robbins believes that you cannot succeed in a relationship until you master these key skills: selection and connection. He claims that the happiest spouses are each others’ ‘raving fans.’ You’ll learn how to pay attention and cheer on your spouse in this nine-minute clip from one of Robbins’ presentations.

Listen: The Movie

No, this movie is not about listening in marriage. Yes, it can still empower you in your next relationship. This film will convince you to make a difference in whatever small way you can — beginning with your spouse and your family.

Listening is key to a successful attorney-client relationship. With the team from the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in your corner, you can feel confident that your every concern is heard. Reach out at your earliest convenience to schedule a case consultation.

Your spouse cheated, and you’re furious. Like virtually everybody in this horrific situation, you’re tempted to end your relationship right now. You certainly wouldn’t be alone in this decision; in a notable National Institute of Health study, infidelity was one of the most frequently cited reasons for divorce. Keep the following in mind as you make a seemingly impossible decision:

Reasons to Divorce

Trust is integral to any relationship. Infidelity implies a complete breakdown of all trust. This, alone, could be reason for divorce. Cheating also destroys bonds of exclusivity. The non-cheating partner no longer feels special; this revelation can be particularly devastating.

Often, cheating is just one of several factors that lead to divorce. If your relationship is already struggling, infidelity may be the final straw. With so many signs pointing to divorce, it may be more difficult to justify attempts at rebuilding.

Reasons to Remain Married

Repairing your relationship will be difficult, but it’s definitely possible. Many couples actually report feeling closer after infidelity — not because of the cheating itself, but because it prompted them to put more work into their relationship. Top motivating factors for sticking it out include:

  • Having children together
  • Owning property together
  • Running a business together

These factors are all extrinsic, but they can be powerful. Of course, they’re more compelling if the relationship has a strong foundation — and if the cheating spouse shows remorse.

Unfortunately, there is no prescription that all spouses dealing with infidelity can follow. Now that you’ve learned of your spouse’s betrayal, you’ll have to make perhaps the most difficult decision of your life thus far. Dig deep, because only you can know the solution to this ordeal.

Infidelity does not constitute grounds for divorce in Minnesota, but it can still impact your dissolution. No matter its role in your marriage’s breakdown, you deserve compassionate legal counsel. The Brown Law Offices, P.A. could be a critical resource as you embark on the divorce process, so get in touch today.