Photo of Kaitlyn Andren

Kaitlyn Andren is an associate attorney with the Brown Law Offices, P.A., a northwest Twin Cities divorce and family law firm. She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of St. Thomas Law School. Upon graduating from law school, Kaitlyn served as law clerk to the Honorable Edward T. Wahl, a respected family court judge in Hennepin County. She is a former special assistant county attorney with the support and collections division of the Anoka County Attorney’s Office. 

Economic vitality, friendly neighbors, great schools…you love everything about Minnesota. Your ex, unfortunately, disagrees. Whether your former flame seeks a warmer climate or new job opportunities, you’re worried an upcoming move will tear you away from your kids. But is this move really cause for concern? Read on to find out.

Is Your Ex Even Allowed to Move?

As a Minnesota co-parent, you cannot legally move your kids out of state without express permission from your ex. The only alternative: a court mandate. Courts base this decision on the child’s best interests. Distance plays a huge factor — moving to River Falls is not a big deal, but San Diego could be. Another major consideration? Emotional ties. Be real — are your kids equally close to both parents?

Other factors courts take into account:

  • The age and emotional maturity of the children. Some kids can handle a big move better than others. Older children express strong opinions, which factor into the final decision.
  • Relationships with other family members, such as grandparents.
  • Whether the moving parent has a history of trying to keep shared kids away from the other parent.

Should You Grant Permission?

You feel betrayed by your ex’s desire to move. Don’t let difficult emotions prompt an ultimatum. Instead, step into your ex’s shoes for a moment. Is this person struggling to find work in Minnesota? Do most of your family members or in-laws live elsewhere? Which approach truly benefits your children?

Of course, your opinion matters too. Respectfully share your concerns. Don’t forget to chat with your kids — but don’t be offended if they also want to move.

If necessary, discuss these issues with a counselor. Understand the full situation before you agree or disagree to a move. Remember, if your ex presents a compelling argument, the court may decide against you. Your ex holds the burden of proof, but you should be prepared to provide evidence indicating that moving is a bad idea.

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. can help you navigate the complications of co-parenting after divorce. Reach out today to discuss your co-parenting situation.

You and your ex anticipate an amicable divorce. In an age of Pinterest and YouTube tutorials, a DIY divorce might seem appealing, especially if you enjoy visions of a harmonious post-divorce relationship. Your insistence on viewing this process through rose-colored glasses could prove devastating for the following reasons:

  1. Failing to Fully Divide Property

Spouses who seek DIY divorce often overlook key aspects of property division. For example, incomplete provisions may leave both spouses responsible for future mortgage payments. If one fails to pay up, the other may be left in the lurch.

  1. Overlooked Tax Concerns

Divorce and taxation concerns go hand-in-hand. Evolving tax legislation makes DIY particularly perilous at this time. The wrong alimony or child support arrangements could leave you struggling come tax season. A skilled lawyer understands the sensitive tax implications of your divorce and can guide you accordingly.

  1. Hidden Fees

DIY divorces are not nearly as affordable as you think. In addition to the potential tax implications outlined above, there’s also a risk of hidden fee structuring. For example, you may incur extra charges for serving divorce papers.

  1. Clerical Errors

Divorce is complicated. A poor grasp of legal jargon could lead to major clerical errors, especially as you complete a mountain of paperwork. These issues may haunt you in months, years, even decades to come. Common issues include poor wording and check marks in the wrong boxes. Lawyers aren’t necessarily immune to these problems, but they’re far less likely to make mistakes.

  1. More Stress

The term ‘DIY’ implies easy, but divorce is anything but. An attorney can lift much of the burden of divorce from your shoulders. If you go it alone, you may face stress above and beyond what you’d experience in an attorney-guided divorce. This stress may prevent you from thinking clearly, thereby leading to even more clerical errors.

If you’re worried about the financial pitfalls of divorce, you can take comfort in knowing that affordable alternatives exist. For example, mediation for some or all of your divorce could lead to significant savings. Contact the Brown Law Offices, P.A. today to learn more about your options.

Divorce tears apart not only immediate families, but also relationships with in-laws. While some spouses complain endlessly about their in-laws, others mourn their loss. But is it really necessary to say goodbye? Depending on your situation, you could maintain a strong relationship with your in-laws long after you sign your divorce papers.

If You and Your Ex Co-Parent

If you and your ex had children together, expect in-laws to play a significant role in your future, for better or for worse. From piano recitals to baseball games, they’ll share in many of your child’s most important milestones. At minimum, maintain a cordial relationship. If you’re on amicable terms, plan outings with both in-laws and your children.

If You and Your Ex Didn’t Have Kids Together

Maintaining a relationship with in-laws can prove tricker for divorces not involving children. It’s far from impossible, but it will take ample effort on your part. Let your intention for an ongoing relationship be known. Exchange contact information and plan regular outings, ideally without your ex.

Don’t Complain About Your Ex

Your need to vent is understandable. That being said, it’s imperative that you find somebody other than your former in-laws to confide in! Instead, focus on shared interests, such as your children or hobbies. Also worth avoiding: using an in-law to communicate with your ex. This person will quickly come to resent playing messenger.

When to Let Go

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it’s impossible to remain close with in-laws after divorce. Your former in-laws may feel pressured to choose sides—and in all likelihood, they’ll stick with blood relationships, no matter how much they empathize with your situation. If former in-laws fail to respond to your messages or outright reject your invites, wish them well and move on.

No matter your relationship with your in-laws, you owe it to yourself to work with a trustworthy divorce attorney. You can count on the Brown Law Offices, P.A. for compassionate representation. Contact us today to schedule a case consultation.

Transparency—so we’ve been taught—shapes us into more authentic people and prevents us from getting stuck in rigid patterns. By sharing experiences online, we also help others know that they’re not alone. When you’re going through a divorce, this kind of collective therapy isn’t just healthy—it’s downright essential. Right?

Not necessarily. Social media is a double-edged tool. Even well-intended, polite discussions about your divorce on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere can profoundly affect your divorce case, and not in a good way.

Here’s what you need to know:

Sharing Versus “Oversharing”

When something happens to us in 2017, it seems second nature to let our friends and family know. We share personal and professional news, often accompanied by pictures. Unfortunately, oversharing on social media can have several negative consequences:

  • You create potentially admissible evidence. What you publish online could be retrieved during discovery to paint an unflattering picture. For example, a casual mention of a new job offer or a vacation may lead to an amendment of your Financial Affidavit, which can affect spousal or child support.
  • You could stoke anger, jealousy or other negative emotions. While Minnesota does not consider fault in a divorce proceeding, publishing pictures of you and your new lover snorkeling on the beach or clinking glasses at a fancy restaurant could enrage your ex-spouse. Bragging is in bad taste, and it can have indirect affects on your divorce outcome. For instance, your ex may react by dropping out of the mediation process, forcing a more public and expensive court battle.
  • You could undermine your case. If you’re claiming strained finances, but you’re posting Facebook updates of lavish vacations or nights out, the court (or your ex) might suspect you have hidden assets.

Do not post anything on social media that you would not share with the whole world. Even if your posts are “private,” they’re still in an online space, which makes them public information in the court’s eyes. Even Snapchats are permanent if someone snags a screenshot.

You may want to speak candidly about ex, but save that for dinner or drinks with friends. Do not use an online public forum.

Our Minnesota family law attorneys are standing by to help you make sense of your next steps. Get in touch today for a strategic consultation.

 

 

 

 

One of the most important aspects of your divorce proceeding will be the division of your property or assets. Generally, property that you and your spouse acquire during the course of a marriage will be considered “marital property,” so it must be divided fairly. For example, if only one person works outside the home, the law considers his or her financial resources joint marital property.

Assets aren’t the only thing Minnesota law considers joint marital property. Debts can be, as well. This can seem unfair, especially when one person runs up a debt without the other spouse knowing.

Is Gambling Debt Joint?

Gambling debt can prove to be an interesting case, as the non-gambling partner might not even be aware the debt exists. These debts can get very large, very quickly, so they often pose a problem in divorce proceedings. Additionally, the gambling partner may go to great lengths to keep their addiction a secret.

In theory, both parties might be liable for such debts, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more. If a gambling parent is expected to pay alimony or child support, this encumbrance may affect his or her ability to meet these obligations.

Impact on Divorce Negotiations

Finding out about a partner’s hidden gambling debt can further erode trust and make it more challenging to use an alternative dispute resolution approach, like mediation. After all, if you can’t trust your ex’s financial decisions—or rely on the accuracy of his reports—how can you negotiate in good faith? Consulting with a qualified divorce attorney right away can help minimize the damage and may even limit your liability for such debts.

Unfortunately, you may end up paying a portion of your spouse’s gambling debts. This seems fundamentally unfair, but consider it this way: what would have happened if your spouse won the same amount of money while gambling? It would be marital property and subject to equitable division. That is the court’s (general) reasoning behind shared debt.

A qualified attorney can work to ensure fair and equitable child support and alimony payments, even in wake of debt. For more information, contact the team at the Brown Law Offices for a confidential initial consultation.

The traditional “Nuclear Family” – two parents originally and only married to each other, with children – has become less common over the past several decades. This Leave It to Beaver paradigm has given way to a more diverse, intricate set of family types. Let’s explore some of these new family structures and discuss the opportunities and challenges they present.

Person with children marries a spouse with no children. This type of blended family can run into obstacles if the parent-spouse assumes that the new partner will automatically take on the roles and responsibilities of “mom” or “dad.” The childless partner, meanwhile, may feel overwhelmed or awkward because of the new family responsibilities.

To succeed, the couple should establish clear rules regarding how to care for and discipline the children and how to meet family expenses. Strive to show a united front to the children. Allow new relationships to develop organically. Reassess the family’s governing rules periodically, as the children grow and as the relationship evolves (e.g. couple moves in together, etc.).

Divorced parent with kids marries another divorced parent with kids. This “Brady Bunch” blended family can get quite complex, given the sheer number of relationships and all the permutations they create. On the plus side, both “Brady Bunch” spouses will be experienced spouses, and the children (when well managed) can band together to help each other and/or assist with chores around the house. Again, organization is key to harmony. Consider establishing a weekly meeting, where everyone can speak freely, air grievances or creative ideas (if any), and do something fun as a unit.

Widow or widower with children remarries. These step-families can lead to healing or destructive dynamics, depending on the nature of the new parent-child relationships. The absence of the deceased spouse/parent understandably can powerfully influence the family dynamic. Communication and empathy can deepen bonds. Avoid trying to rush intimacy or the psychological healing and coping processes.

Divorced or widowed parents of adult children marry. Work to address issues related to inheritance, medical care and retirement to alleviate concerns among the children. If the blended family is geographically distant from all or some of the children, create opportunities for bonding, such as shared holidays or vacations.

Our experienced and compassionate Minnesota family law attorneys can address the diverse legal issues that arise in blended families. Call us for a free consultation at 763-323-6555.

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.

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.

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.

Thanksgiving is about more than turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie; it’s a time to reflect on all the things that are wonderful in your life. Unfortunately, if you are currently in the midst of divorce or legal separation, your life might not seem all that wonderful. After all, a relationship that was once filled with promise and excitement has now deteriorated past the point of reconciliation. At a time like this, it’s best to take an introspective look at yourself and your life, and realize that tough times don’t last. The Thanksgiving holiday affords you the opportunity to count your blessings and discover that, while things may not be so great now, they could always be a lot worse.

How Meditation Can Help

Meditation may be the furthest thing from your mind during divorce proceedings, but research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests that people who participate in mindful meditation are able to effectively reduce their stress and anxiety levels. Thanksgiving and other holidays can stir up memories of happier times with your spouse, but meditation can put those memories into perspective.

Turn to Friends and Family Members

Thanksgiving is about spending time with the people you love most. At first glance, that makes Turkey Day and any other winter holiday seem like an unwelcome ordeal for divorcees. Just remember: while your marriage may not have worked out, you still have an entire support system of friends and family members standing by your side. During difficult periods in your life, sometimes you just need someone to be there for you — what better time than Thanksgiving to have those people show their support? Make the most of the time you have with family and friends over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and you will find yourself enjoying the little things in life a lot more than you otherwise would.