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. 

Whether you’ve voluntarily ended your rights as a parent or suffered involuntary termination of parental rights, your life is about to change. Not only will your relationship with your child evolve considerably (or cease to exist), your financial situation may also look considerably different now that you’re freed of your previous rights and obligations. Read on to learn about the surprising relationship between the termination of parental rights and state assistance in Minnesota:

How Termination of Parental Rights Works in Minnesota

Before you understand how terminating your rights as a parent will impact your eligibility for state assistance, it is important that you understand what else is at stake.

Termination can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. Typically, involuntary termination occurs when the court has deemed you negligent as a parent. Either approach to termination will only occur if the court believes it is in the best interests of your child.

How Termination of Parental Rights Impacts State Assistance

First, it’s important to understand: termination of parental rights does not serve as a legitimate means of avoiding child support payments to a former partner. Courts generally regard maintaining relationships with both parents as in children’s best interests, so you aren’t likely to obtain terminated rights unless clear evidence of your incompetence as a parent exists. In some cases, however, termination of an absentee parent can improve the potential for obtaining assistance, particularly if the absentee parent neglects to provide mandated support. In other cases, termination may occur so that a stepparent can adopt the child.

Terminating your rights may impact your eligibility for various assistance programs. Often, assistance is calculated based on the number of individuals or dependents in your household. If your rights are terminated, however, your child will no longer be deemed part of your household.

As you proceed with your termination of parental rights case, don’t hesitate to seek counsel from an attorney you trust. The Brown Law Offices can help; reach out today to learn how.

Parenthood is tough in the best of circumstances. Sometimes, parents just aren’t cut out for the task of successfully raising children. In select cases, termination of parental rights may be the best option for both the parent and his or her children. This is a sensitive manner that warrants considerable thought, however. Read on to learn more about your rights as a parent — and when terminating those rights might be a viable solution.

Can Termination of Parental Rights Be Voluntary?

In Minnesota, termination of parental rights can occur on a voluntary or involuntary basis. Involuntary termination occurs if the court deems that you’ve abandoned your child or that you have repeatedly neglected to comply with your responsibilities as parent (for example, not feeding your child or refusing to provide adequate financial support).

If you pursue voluntary termination, you will agree to forgo your rights as parent — for the benefit of your child. Keep in mind, however, that termination cannot occur simply because you’re looking for a loophole to paying child support.

Is Termination the Best Option?

In select cases, termination of parental rights can prove beneficial for both children and their parents. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, however. Does another option exist? Perhaps you can make arrangements for the child’s other parent to take over custody.

Remember, courts generally deem it in the child’s best interest to maintain relationships with both parents. While you may think that terminating your rights as a parent will benefit your child, it could cause considerable harm if you are, in fact, a competent parent. Minnesota parents are often unfairly pressured into terminating their rights; when in doubt, seek assertive representation from an attorney you trust.

Termination of parental rights is a complex matter that warrants sensitive handling by an expert. Look to the Brown Law Offices for assistance with your legal situation.

You took your family case to court in hopes of emerging with a favorable outcome that would benefit not only you, but also those you love most. Unfortunately, you were extremely disappointed with the court’s verdict — and you suspect that the negative results stemmed from a misapplication of state law. What now?

Depending on the nature of your case, all hope of a desirable resolution may not be lost. Appealing your case may be a viable option — but it won’t be easy. Read on to learn more about the family law appeals process in Minnesota:

Which Cases Are Eligible For Appeals?

Securing an appeal can be surprisingly tricky for Minnesota residents. Most appellate cases must be filed within sixty days of the trial court judgment’s entry. Keep in mind that the Minnesota Court of Appeals is notoriously strict with deadlines.

Appeals can only be made after a final order has been declared. Temporary relief orders cannot be appealed, as this could cause the state’s Court of Appeals to hear the same case on multiple occasions.

What Does the Appeals Process Involve?

The appeals process typically begins with filing necessary fees and paperwork. This essential step may be followed by participation in the state’s appellate mediation program. Select cases may be exempted from appellate mediation upon request.

If the issue is not resolved in mediation, the case may proceed to appellate court, which consists of a panel of judges. These judges may affirm the initial decision or send the case back to the trial court for further analysis. Remember, the appeals process is not merely a do-over — it’s a review of the trial judge’s application of the law.

 

Look to the Brown Law Offices for assistance as you proceed with your family law appeal. Contact us today to learn more about our track record in appellate court.

When you picture domestic violence, you probably imagine a black eye or other assorted bruises. Sometimes, however, the marks of domestic abuse aren’t visual. Emotional abuse also constitutes domestic violence, and yet, victims often fail to receive the support they so desperately need.

Not only is emotional abuse a form of domestic violence, it’s the most common type of abuse. In Psychology Today, Dr. Steven Stosny explains that few situations can harm a spouse more than living with an emotionally abusive partner.

Why Is Emotional Abuse So Harmful?

Emotional abuse can take many forms, but it nearly always leads to a fearful spouse who alters behavior in hopes of keeping the abusive person happy. Abusers use tactics often seen in POW camps, as they realize that it’s easier to exert control via emotional manipulation than through physical means. Such behavior can leave lasting scars, including feelings of helplessness or shame. Many victims of emotional abuse struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Stopping the Cycle of Abuse

While life with an emotionally abusive spouse can be miserable, it’s possible to break free not only from the problematic relationship, but also from the lasting trauma that such abuse may inflict. Professional help is imperative, particularly for those who do not yet feel capable of leaving an abusive partner. From couples counseling to support groups, a variety of avenues can be pursued to minimize emotional damage and reduce the risk of falling into dangerous coping mechanisms.

Domestic violence may be your present reality, but it doesn’t need to be part of your future. With the Brown Law Offices on your side, you can finally end the cycle and move forward with your life. Reach out today to learn more about opportunities for gaining much-needed legal protection.

Whether you’re a high-earning spouse giving up considerable assets or a single parent struggling to support children on your own, divorce could spell financial trouble. But does everybody suffer upon divorcing? Or are financial difficulties limited to specific situations or demographics? The answer is more complicated than you might think, as you’ll observe below:

The Role of Gender

A study published in the Review of Social Economyindicates that nearly half of American families suffer poverty immediately following divorce. In general, however, how spouses fare depends largely on gender.

In a phenomenon The Atlanticrefers to as the ‘divorce gap,’ women face severe financial penalties after divorcing, while some men actually experience significant increases in income. This flies in the face of common stereotypes indicating that some women divorce purely for alimony. Differences, however, may be muted for couples with similar earnings—particularly men who earned less than 80 percent of the couple’s total income while married.

Short Versus Long-Term Financial Suffering

Research indicates that, in most cases, the bulk of post-divorce financial difficulties arrive in the first several months following dissolution. These issues may result from the loss of a shared home, loss of health insurance, or failure to receive mandated child support payments. While financial burdens can continue far into the future, many divorcees are able to slowly improve their quality of life.

A variety of financial struggles can accompany divorce, but they’re by no means inevitable. The right attorney can work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. Contact the Brown Law Offices today to learn more about your options.

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.