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Jason Brown is a founding shareholder with the Brown Law Offices, P.A., a northwest Twin Cities divorce and family law firm. He is an honors graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato, and the William Mitchell College of Law. Jason has been recognized as a "Super Lawyer" by Thomson Reuters. Media appearances include WCCO Radio, KARE 11 Television, the Star Tribune, USA Today, Time Magazine, Minnesota Monthly and NBC News. 

If you’re one of Minnesota’s nearly 80,000 farmers, you face unique joys and challenges in all aspects of life — including marriage and divorce. While there’s no such thing as an easy divorce, the process can be particularly complicated when shared agricultural property and equipment are at stake. Keep the following considerations in mind as you proceed:

Valuing the Property

Property valuation is an integral component of any divorce. Unfortunately, farms and ranch values are uniquely difficult to pinpoint. A farm’s value includes not only real estate, but also equipment, livestock, and more. Because valuation is so complicated, each spouse often relies on a separate appraiser.

Dividing Debts

FarmFutures reports a five percent annual increase in farm debt since 2004. Dividing that debt can be complicated, particularly if one spouse was involved in the farming business before marriage.

Equitable Distribution and Separate Versus Married Property

As in most states, Minnesota courts divide shared property equitably. These means that one spouse may come away with a greater share of property than the other. Application of equitable distribution may differ in farm divorces, however — especially for a family farm passed down through inheritance.

Creative Solutions

Some farming couples pursue mediation or collaboration in hopes of achieving a mutually beneficial outcome. If one spouse is more involved in the farming business, that person may come away with both farm property and debt, while the other may receive retirement assets, other property, or a lump sum. Some spouses waive property in exchange for larger alimony payments. Others choose to sell their farm and start fresh with equally divided proceeds. Additional solutions include long-term payouts or farmland rental.

No one approach works for every farming couple. With a spirit of cooperation and counsel from the right attorney, it’s possible for both spouses to thrive after divorce.

As a Minnesota farmer, you need advice from an attorney who understands the ins and outs of divorce in your home state. The Brown Law Offices, P.A. can help. Reach out today to learn about next steps in your divorce.

You’re on the hunt for the perfect family law attorney. You’ve looked into your prospects’ case history, academic credentials, and online reviews. You know everything important about each potential attorney — but do you, really? What about their values? This oft-forgotten concept should play a top role in your final decision.

Why You And Your Attorney Should Share Values

Trust forms the backbone of any attorney-client relationship. As a trusting client, you are more likely to share sensitive details with your lawyer, free from fear of undue judgment. If you intrinsically disagree with your attorney’s basic values, you’ll never trust him or her to act in your best interests.

For example: if you’re part of an LGBT couple and are eager to adopt a child or draft a prenuptial contract, you’ll want to work with an attorney who clearly values same-sex marriage. While a lawyer with different values may technically be capable of handling your case, this person will not tackle the matter with the drive or compassion you deserve.

Identify Key Values and Look For Associated Terminology

Before you launch your search for the perfect attorney, take some time to highlight your personal values. How do you define an ideal attorney? Note both red flags and qualities that would increase that all-important trust factor.

Next, determine how your values might translate into marketing jargon. The language your lawyer uses on social media, in blog posts, and in print materials can say a lot about his or her basic values. Key marketing terms could include:

  • Small town values
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Boutique law firm
  • Integrity
  • Spirit of cooperation
  • Trial-ready

Vet Prospects Thoroughly

Not all attorneys blatantly broadcast their values online or via print marketing materials. Even those who do may interpret common descriptors differently. Vet potential attorneys to determine what they really think. Ask targeted questions. You should come away with a clear understanding of each attorney’s legal philosophy.

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. values honest, transparent representation. Get in touch today to learn more about this respected Minnesota law firm.

You’re ready to divorce, but not necessarily to fight in a courtroom with your ex. If you’re hoping for an alternative to court, you may be a viable candidate for mediation. This process involves a neutral third party, who helps you and your ex make key decisions regarding child custody, spousal maintenance, property division, and more.

Why Mediation?

Although not always the best option, mediation often allows couples to escape the downsides of litigation divorce. Sometimes, issues can be resolved more quickly and at a lower cost. Many couples dread the formal nature of courtroom proceedings, and prefer something a bit more laid-back.

Mediation Etiquette: Rules to Follow to Keep Mediation As Productive As Possible

You and your spouse need not maintain a particularly friendly relationship to prove successful in mediation. You must, however, agree to follow certain etiquette guidelines to keep the process as drama-free as possible. For example:

  • No name-calling or emotional abuse in any form
  • Take turns speaking—no interrupting when the other person is talking
  • Listen to and try to appreciate your ex’s perspective, even if you disagree
  • Acknowledge your ex’s right to have a different opinion
  • Be open-minded regarding creative solutions to your divorce disagreements

What If Mediation Is Not For Me?

Mediation can prove an effective and affordable alternative for many couples, but it’s not ideal for everybody. This approach is particularly problematic for couples in which a power imbalance still exists. For example, a spouse previously abused by the other party may struggle to stand up for him or herself in mediation. In such situations, the abused spouse requires assertive representation from a trusted family attorney.

If you’re not sure whether mediation is the right approach, contact a trusted attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you determine the best next steps for your divorce — mediation or otherwise. If you proceed with mediation, your lawyer can serve as outside counsel and provide a valuable perspective.

Contact Brown Law Offices, P.A. to learn how a skilled Minnesota attorney’s involvement could improve your prospects in mediation or a collaborative divorce.

If you are currently pursuing a divorce in Minnesota, you’re probably worried about your financial future. Spousal maintenance is a huge concern, of course, but property division also threatens to harm your financial status. Who gets the house? How will you divide retirement assets? Read on to learn more about property division proceedings in the state of Minnesota:

What Is Marital Property? How Is It Divided?

Minnesota courts refer to all assets acquired (by either party) while married as marital property. This is in accordance with the presiding philosophy that marriage serves as full partnership—and that a homemaker’s contributions hold value.

Factors influencing marital property in Minnesota include:

  • How long the spouses were married
  • Whether the spouses were previously married
  • The income (both the amount and sources) of each spouse
  • Contributions as homemaker
  • Contributions to marital property

Spouses can influence property division outcomes by seeking valuation services or providing documentation of their non-financial contributions to the relationship (such as caring for children).

What Is Non-Marital Property?

Non-marital property includes that acquired through the owner’s efforts before marriage, and anything given as a gift prior to the union. Inheritances from third parties that occurred prior to marriage also qualify as non-marital property. Although non-marital property is typically not divided between spouses in divorce, it could be impacted if it was commingled while the partners were married. Occasionally, spouses are able to designate property gained while married as non-marital, but this requires a preponderance of evidence.

What Is Commingling?

Non-marital property may not be deemed as such if it is commingled. For example, if a non-marital inheritance was deposited in a joint bank account, it could become difficult to trace, making it less likely to remain separated from equitably distributed property.

Dividing Property Through Mediation or Collaboration

Some couples prefer to reach financial arrangements through alternative dispute resolution. This approach sometimes allows divorcing spouses to arrive at creative solutions, which may also draw in spousal maintenance proceedings. For example: one spouse may agree to forgo future maintenance payments so as to secure real estate ownership.

Property division can be one of the most frustrating aspects of divorce in Minnesota. Seek a favorable outcome with assistance from the Brown Law Offices, P.A.

From domestic violence to stranger-induced assault, a variety of encounters leave Minnesotans fearing for their safety. Thankfully, the state offers several countermeasures designed to restore security. Two main opportunities for victims: orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. Although similar in many respects, these options hold several key differences, as outlined below:

Order for Protection (OFP)

An order for protection’s primary objective is to protect the issuer from an abusive blood relative, significant other, former significant other, or roommate. The petitioner must have either suffered physical harm, the threat of physical harm, or forced sexual contact. If the OFP is granted, the alleged abuser may be removed from his or her home. Additionally, temporary custody decisions may be made based on the OFP. The petitioner can request for guns to be removed from the offender’s home. Violations are entered into the OFP State System, and thus subject to police access whenever a 911 call is made.

Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)

No relationship is required to establish a harassment restraining order. The petitioner, however must have suffered physical or sexual assault, or more than one unwanted act (including speech) intended to harm his or her safety or privacy.

A key difference between HROs and OFPs: with HROs, petitioners cannot request for gun removal or alter custody arrangements. Furthermore, while law enforcement officials can forcibly remove offenders from premises following successful filing of an OFP, HROs merely grant them the power to restrict abusers from returning home.

Choosing Between OFP and HRO

Ready to file an OFP or HRO? Your decision will largely depend on how you know the abuser, and how you anticipate the action will impact that person. Typically, law enforcement officials take OFPs more seriously than HROs. In most cases, if the victim is related to or has lived with the perpetrator, an OFP is the preferred option.

Both OFPs and HROs can be granted without a hearing, so take action today if you believe that either approach is warranted. A skilled Minnesota attorney can help you navigate the filing process and achieve the protection you deserve.

An OFP or HRO could be your ticket to a safer and more secure life in Minnesota. Seek support from the Brown Law Offices, P.A.

The one possible downside to marriage equality? Same-sex divorce. Unfortunately, this version of dissolution can prove far more complicated than heterosexual divorce, in part because many same-sex couples lived together long before they married. Read on to learn more about same-sex divorce in Minnesota:

Minnesota and Same-Sex Marriage

Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. Voters rejected a state-based constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2012. Just a few months later, Minnesota legislature passed a hallmark same-sex marriage bill. Federal legalization followed two years later, with the Supreme Court ruling previous bans unconstitutional.

Filing For Divorce

In Minnesota, same-sex couples face the same filing requirements as other spouses. One partner must reside in the state for at least 180 days before filing. Couples married in other states or nations with legal same-sex marriage can divorce upon meeting Minnesota’s minimum residency requirement. In fact, the state’s very first divorce involved a couple originally wed in Canada.

Property Division

Many same-sex spouses lived much like married couples long before they officially tied the knot. Unfortunately, for purposes of property division, the official marital relationship does not begin until the legalization of marriage. Thus, even if you lived like a married couple for two decades, state law only recognizes joint property extending back to 2013.

Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. This means that property is divided in an equitable (or fair) matter, as opposed to equally between spouses. This classification grants a modicum of flexibility in same-sex property division. However, many couples find it easier to divide their assets via mediation, as this allows for creative solutions not often pursued in court.

Custody and Visitation

Minnesota allows same-sex couples to petition for adoption. Those with children face the same custody and visitation concerns as their heterosexual peers. Custody disputes may be complicated by second-parent adoption arrangements, which were common for gay and lesbian couples prior to 2013.

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. offers a variety of essential same-sex divorce services for Minnesota residents. Call today to schedule a case consultation.

The internet plays a huge role in modern divorce, for better or for worse. Some divorcees find relief in social networking, but others suffer harassment at the hands of their ex.

Nasty Facebook updates can make your blood boil. How you respond, however, could determine whether you emerge with a favorable divorce resolution. Keep the following in mind as you deal with a difficult ex:

Avoid Facebook Stalking Your Ex

In times of heightened emotion, otherwise innocuous internet updates can seem like personal attacks. If possible, avoid looking at your ex’s social media pages altogether. If a problematic post comes to your attention via friends or family members, monitor the situation and consult your attorney before interacting with your ex.

Forget About ‘Tit For Tat’

Your immediate desire after seeing online insults may be to respond in kind. After all, who could possibly have more dirt on your ex?

Although understandable, this impulse could cause huge problems down the road. Anything you express online could come back to haunt you in the future; that retaliatory tweet or Facebook status may grant the opposing side’s counsel additional ammo.

Resist the urge to write an explanatory post denouncing your ex’s insults. Such a post may prove cathartic in the short-term, but could ultimately be used against you. The less you talk about your divorce in any capacity online, the better.

Take Legal Action for Libel

Severe comments could hurt your reputation, making it difficult to land work or housing in the future. Depending on the nature of the accusations, in certain very specific situations, you might consider taking legal action for libel. Previous spouses have done exactly that on the basis that online publications count as defamation in writing.

Think carefully before taking this approach; a lawsuit could prove costly and may further extend already combative divorce litigation. Furthermore, you’ll need ample proof to demonstrate that problematic language actively harmed you.

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. can optimize your legal approach to make the most of a difficult situation. No matter how your ex-spouse behaves, you can handle the ordeal with a trusted Minnesota attorney by your side.

As parent, you can play an integral role in your child’s post-divorce recovery. Your support could spell the difference between a divorce disaster and something a bit more manageable. Follow these do’s and don’ts to show your support and keep the peace:

Do: Listen

Right now, your adult child needs unconditional support and a shoulder to cry on. Make it clear that you are willing to listen to whatever your child has to say. Don’t pressure him or her to talk, but extend an invitation. By listening attentively to your child’s concerns, you can alleviate a great deal of his or her current mental anguish.

Don’t: Lecture

The last thing your child wants right now is to be hit with a fusillade of I told you so’s. There’s no need to explore how you would have done things differently or provide detailed instructions for the ensuing divorce process. If your child asks questions, answer honestly. Otherwise, stop playing professor and start listening.

Do: Tread Carefully In Your Relationships With Former In-Laws

If your child and his or her ex have children together, expect to see plenty of your former in-laws. When interacting with these individuals, resist the urge to take sides or act hostile.

If your child’s marriage did not produce children but you nevertheless enjoy a strong relationship with your in-laws, be careful. Your willingness to continue spending time with former in-laws could easily be misconstrued. Find out how your child feels about continued interactions before extending an olive branch to previous in-laws.

Don’t: Be Offended By the Timing of the Announcement

You may eventually discover that you were the last to learn of your child’s divorce. Don’t be offended; no matter their age, kids hate to disappoint their parents. Sometimes, it’s easier to test the waters with a friend or sibling before confiding in parents.

It’s never easy to see a child struggle, but as parent, it’s your job to provide much-needed support at this difficult time. A little compassion will go a long way.

If your child intends to divorce, the experienced Minnesota divorce attorneys at Brown Law Offices, P.A. can provide strategic guidance. Please call to schedule a confidential case evaluation.

Each new year presents fresh opportunities, but not everybody’s list of resolutions includes weight loss or household organization. For some, the end of the holiday season means a chance for new beginnings—including the pursuit of the single life. Hence, the rise in divorce during the month of January, as we explore below:

Divorce’s Uptick: The Signs

DivorcedWomenOnline.com founder Cathy Meyer observes an uptick in searches for divorce information immediately after the holidays. This leaves prospective divorcees just enough time to gather information before filing in early January. Reports from other divorce experts back up Meyer’s findings. Furthermore, statistics from eDivorcePapers.com indicate that January sees more legal breakups than any other month.

The Role of the Holiday Season

A clear link exists between January’s uptick in divorces and the timing of the holiday season. For many couples, it’s simply easier to endure a difficult, but divorce-free December than break the bad news during obligatory family gatherings. Some are less worried about upsetting loved ones and more concerned about their social standing—a lot of people frown upon December breakups.

In other cases, the stress of the holidays exacerbates already difficult circumstances, thereby making divorce more likely. Still other spouses believe that natural holiday stress could lead to a messier, less amicable divorce.

The Resolution Effect

Some people feel more confident when January 1st strikes their calendar. These newly assertive individuals may strive to fulfill relationship-related resolutions by finally calling their marriage quits.

Preparing For Tax Season

Divorce timing doesn’t always revolve around resolutions or holiday blues. Some couples are strictly practical. Their marital status on Dec. 31st determines their tax situation the following year. Some may rush to break off their marriage in hopes of making tax deadlines. In select cases, this decision can drastically impact taxation on end-of-year bonuses, which may come attached to January paychecks.

No matter your preferred timing for your divorce, it behooves you to seek representation from a skilled attorney. Brown Law Offices, P.A. can help you every step of the way. Please call for a free consultation: 763-323-6555.

Your divorce proceeding or decree may involve many court orders. These are legally binding agreements that can lead to harsh penalties if either party chooses not to adhere to them. After spending time, money, and energy on a court proceeding, it can be frustrating when your partner refuses to cooperate. Is there anything you can do to help enforce court orders? The simple answer: yes.

  1. Document Everything.

The first thing you should do after a spouse or other family member refuses to comply with a court order is to remind him or her of the context of your agreement. Make these reminders in writing, in case you decide to pursue legal action. It also helps to keep a diary of court order violations–for example, dates and times, supported by comments about what happened.

  1. Keep Your Cool.

It doesn’t help to berate, belittle, or use anger when talking to a family member about a court violation. You should also take care to keep the matter private–in other words, don’t take to Facebook or Twitter and complain about your ex. Online rants are typically considered admissible evidence in court, and you don’t want to sabotage your own efforts by seeming petty. Take a deep breath and use logic, not emotion, to deal with court violations.

  1. Get a Qualified Attorney Involved

When written warnings don’t help, you may need to take further legal action to resolve the matter. Unfortunately, not everyone will comply with a court order, despite its legally binding status. You may need to hire a Minnesota family law attorney to formulate a demand letter, which stipulates what you’re seeking (e.g. missed child support payments) and possible legal action (e.g. filing a motion for wage garnishment).

If filing a motion becomes necessary, you can also petition the court to have your ex-spouse or family member pay your legal fees. Don’t let cost detract you from contacting a qualified family law attorney.

If you’re getting the runaround from an ex regarding visitation, spousal maintenance, or child support, don’t let the situation continue. Contact the experienced family law attorneys at Brown Law Office for more information or to schedule a free consultation.