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. 

Polyamorous marriages are more common than you might suspect. While researchers struggle to pinpoint an exact figure, independent academic Kelly Cookson estimates that nearly ten million couples agree to allow ‘satellite lovers.’ Whether implicit or spelled out, these agreements complicate divorce proceedings. Below, we answer a few of the most common questions about polyamory’s role in divorce.

Could polyamory be grounds for divorce?

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, so allegations of wrongdoing generally don’t factor into the filing process. Because polyamory constitutes adultery, it may be regarded as grounds for divorce in other states.

Who gets custody in a polyamorous divorce?

It depends. Minnesota’s status as a no-fault divorce state limits the role polyamory and adultery play in custody decisions. However, while the act of polyamory itself may not impact custody, related behaviors and circumstances could. For example, a monogamous spouse may receive primary physical custody if the other spouse’s paramour (non-marital partner) is involved in criminal activity or otherwise believed to be a bad influence on the child.

How does polyamory impact child support?

Polyamory does not determine child support in and of itself. Payments could be affected, however, if the polyamorous spouse has children outside of the marriage. Often, custodial spouses of parents with children from other relationships receive less in child support due to the other parent’s obligation to support children from multiple families.

What happens if non-married partners split?

Polyamory is often more complicated for non-married partners than it is for their spouses. Splits often resemble non-married breakups, but children outside of wedlock can complicate matters. Polyamorous fathers who fail to establish paternity with non-married parents may struggle to obtain visitation rights.

The team at the Brown Law Offices provides a nonjudgmental approach to divorce representation. No matter the sensitive details of your family matters, you can count on the Brown Law Offices for discretion.

Stuck in the post-divorce doldrums? Sometimes, a dose of escapism is the best solution. Grab some popcorn and get ready to feel empowered as you watch these inspiring movies:

Hope Floats

This heartwarming film explores the fallout attached to an unfortunately public split. If you’re a parent, you’ll relate to protagonist Birdee’s struggles as a single parent…but also the pride that comes with succeeding on your own.

Waiting to Exhale

Forest Whitaker clearly had a thing for divorce-inspired romantic flicks in the mid to late 90s. He directed Hope Floats and Waiting to Exhale, both of which share themes of post-divorce empowerment. Originally a popular Terry McMillan novel, Waiting to Exhale follows the romantic trials and tribulations of four friends. Recently divorced viewers will relate most to Glo and Bernie’s stories.

First Wives Club

Okay, the protagonists in this iconic divorce film don’t exactly take the high road, but that shouldn’t stop you from living vicariously while you make smart decisions. Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton will inspire you to take control of your post-divorce destiny.

Under the Tuscan Sun

If only we could all move to gorgeous Tuscany after divorce. The next best thing? Falling in love with Diane Lane in this classic ‘finding yourself’ flick. While you may not be able to afford a villa abroad, you’ll be inspired to establish new relationships (both romantic and platonic) after you go your own way.

Kramer vs. Kramer

One of the most notorious divorce-themed films, Kramer vs. Kramer examines the fallout of divorce and how it impacts a couple’s young son. If you’ve recently suffered a tough custody battle, this film is for you.

Looking for something else to take your mind off reality? Check out Rotten Tomatoes  for suggestions.

Your Minnesota divorce attorney should be more capable than any lawyers you see on the silver screen. You’ll find your real-life legal hero at the Brown Law Offices.

 

Quick, affordable, and informal, mediation provides an enticing alternative to litigation divorce. That doesn’t make it the right solution for every couple. From abusive relationships to neglectful parenting, a variety of circumstances can make mediation a nightmare. Consider opting for collaboration or litigation instead, if one of these factors applies to your situation:

Your Spouse Is Abusive

If you are on the wrong side of a relationship power imbalance, avoid mediation at all costs. Without legal representation, you’re liable to cave to your ex’s unreasonable demands. As a participant in mediation, you can only consult with an attorney on the side. You need representation from a strong lawyer who isn’t afraid to fight for your best interests.

You Struggle to Advocate For Yourself

Even in non-abusive marriages, one spouse often plays a submissive role. If this represents your role in the relationship, you’ll struggle to accomplish your goals in mediation. You may benefit from collaboration — a middle ground involving strong attorney advocacy outside of court.

Your Spouse Is a Negligent Parent

Mediation negotiations often end in split custody or generous visitation time. If your ex’s poor parenting record makes the mere thought of joint custody abhorrent, prepare for a litigation divorce. There’s no room for compromise when your family’s safety is at stake.

Your Spouse Is Dead-Set On Hurting You

Divorcees driven by pure emotion struggle to keep their cool in mediation. To succeed during this process, ex-spouses should genuinely desire a mutually beneficial outcome. If your spouse seeks to undermine you at every turn, you’re better off settling your divorce in court.

No matter your preferred approach to divorce, you can count on the Brown Law Offices for quality counsel. Reach out today to learn more about the role this trusted Minnesota law firm could play in your mediation efforts.

Determined to divorce? Prepare for a pile of paperwork. It all begins with collecting the financial documents that tell the story of your relationship. The sooner you gather these files, the better. The following are especially important:

Tax Returns

Whether you filed separate or joint taxes, you’ll need access to tax returns that reflect both you and your spouse’s financial situation. If possible, obtain state, federal, and local tax returns dating back at least three years.

Proof of Income

Proving income can be tricky, especially if you or your spouse harbors any semblance of entrepreneurial spirit. Pay stubs are just the beginning; look for 1099 forms, business contracts, and other evidence of income. Provide documentation of all businesses in which you or your spouse have held interest these past three years.

Bank and Credit Card Statements

Assets and debts cannot be divided until they are accurately identified. Bank and credit card statements play a huge role in this process. These records can determine not only how assets can be equitably divided, but also whether your spouse has engaged in fraudulent activity such as hiding income. Unless doctored (which is easy for a skilled attorney to identify) bank statements don’t lie.

Retirement Records

From your 401(k) to your spouse’s pension plan, documents associated with retirement may play a huge role in your divorce. Begin document retrieval by speaking with the human resources departments at your respective places of employment. At minimum, strive to obtain benefits statements, summary plan descriptions, procedures for qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs), and any information provided by the plan’s sponsor.

Ready to file for divorce? Don’t go it alone. The Brown Law Offices will guide you through every step of this difficult process. Reach out today to learn more.

 

Your ideal attorney needs so much more than a long resume. This person should share your most cherished values.

How do you determine what values, exactly, your most promising legal prospects hold? Read on to find out:

Determine What You Don’t Want In an Attorney

Like many people, you draw a blank when asked to define your values. When faced with such an open-ended question, it sometimes helps to clarify what you want to avoid.

Brainstorm a list of worst-case scenarios for attorney behavior. What do you fear most? What possibilities make you most comfortable? Next, determine how the opposite of unwanted behaviors could be defined as a desirable trait.

Not sure how this brainstorming process will play out? This example might help: Perhaps you hate the idea of your lawyer stringing you along in hopes of cashing in on your never-ending case. If so, you prioritize efficiency. You want your attorney to streamline the legal process without glossing over critical aspects of discovery.

Another example: you’re worried that your attorney will blame you for the demise of your relationship. You hate the thought of working with a judgmental legal representative. This means you value compassion.

Research Your Attorney For Signs of Shared Values

Once you know what you want in an attorney, find somebody who lives up to your vision. Prepare for a complicated search — all attorneys strive to present themselves in their best light. Look carefully at each prospect’s track record and marketing language to determine deep-seated values. Client reviews offer insight rarely available in marketing materials. Be wary of attorneys accused of behaviors that violate your personal code.

Trust Your Instincts

Whether researching an attorney online or meeting face-to-face, trust your gut. Don’t work with a lawyer who prompts even an inkling of discomfort.

Intuition is critical to finding a value-abiding lawyer. The more comfortable you feel at this early stage, the more likely you are to build a strong working relationship.

Ready to learn more about top values at the Brown Law Offices, P.A.? Get in touch today to discover our legal philosophy and approach to family law.

 

 

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.