There are two type of custody under Minnesota law: (1) physical custody; and (2) legal custody. Physical custody involves the day to day care of a child, while legal custody involves key decisions concerning a child's education, healthcare and religion. The "best interest of the child" standard applies.

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.

In our last post on custody in Minnesota, we explored the various factors used to determine custody and parenting time. Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to delve into specifics regarding paternity, residency requirements, and parenting plans.

How Paternity Impacts Custody

While the Minnesota marriage rate remains higher than that in most states, it’s quickly dropping — in part because more couples opt for cohabitation. Whether parents live together or apart, children conceived out of wedlock are not automatically presumed related to the father. To achieve custody or parenting time, the father must officially establish paternity. Otherwise, state law mandates that the mother receives sole custody.

Residency Requirements

To qualify for a Minnesota judge’s declaration in custody decisions, your child must have resided in the state with a parent or eligible guardian for six consecutive months. Exceptions sometimes apply in emergency situations.

Changing Custody

Custody arrangements in Minnesota can be altered following a court order, but only if the court deems that the family’s situation has changed significantly — and that a new order will benefit the child. When determining possible changes, courts only examine new circumstances.

Parenting Plans

Parenting plans help divorced or separated parents determine the specifics of child care. Topics covered may include education, emergency medical treatment, residential arrangements, and more. The state provides a parenting plan worksheet that can be used as a blueprint for parenting discussions or as a tool to prepare for courtroom proceedings.

Still confused about custody and visitation in Minnesota? You’re certainly not alone. Don’t hesitate to seek additional information from our knowledgeable and caring team at the Brown Law Offices. Call 763-323-6555 today to schedule a consultation.

Custody is often the most emotional aspect of a Minnesota divorce. While some couples inherently agree that their children are better off living with just one parent, others bicker endlessly over parenting time. These spats can be minimized, in part, by a better understanding of how custody works in the state of Minnesota. Below, we review a few basic ideas you should understand before proceeding with custody negotiations:

Types of Custody

First, it’s important to understand custody categories. As in many states, Minnesota divides the concept into two main branches: physical and legal custody.

Physical custody is probably what you picture when you think of custody. In Minnesota, this term refers to where the child resides and who makes day-to-day decisions about routine activities.

Legal custody involves major decisions about the child’s education, health care, and religious upbringing. Many Minnesota parents split legal custody but designate a sole physical custodian.

While parents with multiple children often maintain similar custody plans, arrangements could realistically be different for each child.

How Is Custody Determined In Minnesota?

Some parents determine custody on their own through mediation. Many, however, defer to the state’s court system. Minnesota courts focus on the best interests of the child — a surprisingly complicated concept that can take several factors into account. These include:

  • The child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
  • Special needs regarding physical or mental health.
  • The child’s preferences.
  • The presence of abuse in the child’s household.
  • The child’s relationships with parents, siblings, and other family members.

Clearly, no two Minnesota custody cases look exactly alike. As you strive for a positive outcome, think carefully about each child’s best interests.

At this difficult time, you can lean on the Brown Law Offices for support. You’ll never doubt that we care about your family. Call 763-323-6555 today to schedule a case consultation.

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.

Written by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury in 1981, the bestselling book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In has become a go-to resource for working through challenging negotiations. As it turns out, the “getting to yes” methodology can also be very helpful in mediating difficult divorce agreements. Below are some key insights that we can apply to divorce negotiations, based on the book’s five-point method.

1. Separate the people from the problem

When you view your ex as “the problem” or vice versa, negotiating a settlement becomes much more difficult. In truth, there are specific issues between you that are causing the split—not any one person. Focusing on the issues rather than placing blame takes you much further toward a solution that works for both.

2. Focus on interests, not positions

When you simply take opposing positions in a disagreement, one person “wins” while the other “loses.” Instead, try focusing on the interests of each person: what do you want in a settlement? What does your ex want? Is there any position you could take that could serve both interests?

3. Generate options for mutual gain

Once you’ve identified each person’s interests in the divorce, start imagining a number of alternatives in which both people stand to gain, turning a win-lose into a win-win scenario. This is key to turning combat into negotiation because both of your interests are now being served.

4. Insist on objective criteria

When contemplating the alternative solutions, you must base the consideration on an objective set of criteria. This is the more difficult part of the negotiation, because both parties will likely give up something they want. Here is where a neutral mediator can be most useful because he/she has no emotional investment in the solution.

5. Know your “BATNA”

Should negotiations fail or you find yourself losing too much ground, your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) is your baseline or safety net—the “worst case scenario” or default course of action you must take if you can’t come to agreement. Knowing your BATNA gives you a fair point of leverage in negotiations as the low point that both parties wish to avoid, helping you both stay motivated to come up with a better solution in the divorce agreement.

In a military divorce, the nonmilitary spouse likely has not worked outside the home or possibly only held down part-time employment in order to accommodate the lifestyle with moves and lengthy deployments.

On the one hand, nonmilitary spouses often struggle to find employment because of those factors. On the other hand, they can frequently build strong cases for child custody. After all, the military professional’s frequent deployments may make child care complicated if not impossible.

Considering the Best Interests of the Child

The judge will consider what’s in the best interests of your children. If he or she determines that military-related moves could hurt the children emotionally and socially or disrupt schooling, sports, medical treatment or other activities, the judge might award custody to the parent who is less likely to move.

Special Considerations

Since both parties understand the need for cooperation in the event of sudden deployments, they should work with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can provide them with good advice on how to proceed.

Similar to a civilian divorce, a military custody plan should consider diverse factors, such as:

•    The age of the children
•    The possibility of deployment and a plan of action
•    A plan of action for a return from deployment and
•    Visitation in the event of a stateside or international deployment.

In addition, assess the custody plan according to the age of each child and future considerations. You might need to make adjustments based on a different job, remarriage or other relevant criteria.

Collecting Child Support

In some cases, the parties will need a temporary order to address the payment of daily expenses during the separation until the divorce is finalized. Both parents must support their children, and the court will consider the following factors when ordering payments:

•    The number of children
•    Any special needs
•    Shared custody arrangements
•    The number and frequency of overnight visits with the non-custodial parent and
•    Other relevant factors.

The military enforces the collection of child support via the following methods:

•    Wage garnishments
•    Voluntary or involuntary allotments and
•    Court orders.

Addressing Custody Matters in Your Military Divorce

Due to the relocation of military parents, custody issues can lead to especially sensitive conversations and debates. Our experienced and skilled family law team can suggest solutions; call us for help at 763-323-6555.

Are marriage and divorce different for the very rich and very poor? One oft-cited statistic is that 50% of marriages end in divorce, but that doesn’t account for income disparity, nor does it account for the fact that many divorces are from second and third marriages. Still, a look at marriage rates in recent years reveals  that fewer people are getting married overall.

There are many reasons why fewer people seek marriage today, which also means fewer people are getting divorced. Interestingly, when the recession hit in 1998, that economic change sparked an upsurge in divorce. That fact should come as no surprise, since arguing over money is one of the main causes of divorce, among both the rich and the poor.

While arguments over money obviously can lead to marital strife and the break down of communication, the story is not so simple. People don’t just get divorced because they lack resources. Certainly, empty pockets add to the stress of raising a family, and that can lead to poor families splitting as well as to behaviors (such as criminal acts or addiction) that further fray relationships. However, there’s a wrinkle: many poor people simply can’t afford to divorce… or at least they believe they cannot afford to separate.

Another cultural phenomenon may be relevant to our question. Over the last 50 years, women have been joining the workforce in droves. As a result, women have seen their incomes go up. Interestingly, in homes where the woman earns more than her husband, the couple seems to be at higher risk of divorce. Could new gender economics somehow contribute to some divorces?

Celebrity divorces get a lot of media attention, but are celebrities even a good proxy for the “wealthy”? Perhaps the complexities of fame dictate how and why celebrity couples split more so than fortune.

Marriage and divorce are complicated matters. It’s difficult to say which socioeconomic class divorces more often, but we can say married couples are more financially stable and that divorce (in general) leads to wealth reduction. It appears from the data we have that the most financially secure are people who get married and stay married.

Our Minnesota divorce lawyers can help you understand your options and develop a clear strategic approach to meeting your needs and protecting your children. Please call us at 763-323-6555 to discuss your situation.

In Minnesota, you can file a document with the state to recognize a man as father of your child even if you aren’t married to that man. It’s a voluntary action, and both adult parties must sign the document. If you know who the father of your child is, and he is willing to be recognized as the child’s father, the ROP offers a less expensive option than paternity testing. You can bypass many of the typical legal hoops you have to jump through to prove paternity.

It’s important that you and the father understand that signing the Recognition of Parentage form does not give the father any visitation or custody rights. It simply establishes the legal relationship between the man and the child.

The Benefits of ROP to the Father and Mother

Once the ROP is in place, the father can then petition the court to request visitation and custody rights. It also gives you the right to petition the court to force the father to provide financial support for the child, and you can obtain medical information about the father. The father also has the right to include the child on his medical and dental insurance policies. Here are the potential downsides; both parties lose the right to:

1. Genetic testing to prove fatherhood
2. Have an attorney represent them in court
3. Request a trial to prove paternity

After filing for an ROP, you can file another form to have it revoked within 60 days. If circumstances permit, you can petition a court to revoke your ROP after 60 days but within the first year, but this strategy is substantially more difficult to accomplish. If the man who signed your ROP is not the biological father of your child, and you have genetic testing to prove it, you have six months after obtaining that proof to revoke the Recognition of Parentage.

If you want to know more about ROP and paternity testing, contact a Minnesota family law attorney at 763-323-6555 right now.

Child custody is a complex issue. When parents dissolve a marriage, if they can’t agree on whom the children will live with, then the court must decide. How is that determined? Several factors are considered.

•    The most important concerns are the interests of the child. Historically, that weighted a court’s decision in favor of the mother. In recent years, gender equity has shifted legal priorities.
•    If either parent relinquishes custodial rights or requests the other parent have sole custody, then that is considered.
•    Where things get sticky is when both parents insist on having sole custody. In that case, the court must settle the matter. Often, the decision boils down to which parent is better able to provide for education, medical attention, a suitable lifestyle, and connection to the family religion.

Factors include:

◦    Finances – Which parent has the better job, most stable employment, and/or highest income or savings?
◦    Living Situation – Has either parent remarried, or is there another romantic partner in the picture? What kind of living conditions will the children be subjected to? Has one of the parents moved out of the area?
◦    Religion – Who is better able to provide stable religious training? If parents are of different religions, have they chosen to educate the children in one religion over the other? If one parent is religious, and the other isn’t, the court may consider that in light of other factors.
◦    Dangers – Has either parent been convicted of a crime or abused drugs or alcohol? Are there other concerns, such as a history of abusive behavior or a volatile home environment?

Courts rarely award legal custody to step-parents; however, it does happen. All things are considered in light of the best interests of the child.

Are you fighting for custody of your children? Contact an experienced Minnesota custody lawyer at 763-323-6555 for a private, confidential consultation.

In the months or years following a divorce, as life situations change for parents and children, renegotiations of child custody and visitation agreements are quite common. However, if you enter into negotiations ill-prepared, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money while making it even more of a challenge to renegotiate down the road. Here are five big mistakes people often make during child custody/visitation renegotiations, and how to avoid them.

1. Offering no change of circumstance

Remember, the court has previously determined child visitation and custody rights for specific reasons, taking certain factors into account. If you ask your ex or a judge for a change in these rights without offering clear evidence that these deciding factors have changed, your request to renegotiate is likely to fall flat.

2. Failure to abide by the current agreement

If you have withheld visitation from the other parent without just cause, or if you have disobeyed any court order related to custody and visitation, you’re coming to the table with two strikes already against you. Neither your ex nor a judge will look favorably on your request to change the terms of custody if you’ve not been showing respect for the current terms.

3. Failure to clarify exactly what you want in concrete terms

If you are unhappy with your current child custody agreement, chances are it’s because you failed to be specific about terms the first time around. (For example, if you didn’t address who gets the kids during certain holidays, that lack of clarity might now be a point of contention with your ex.) Custody renegotiation is a perfect time to fill in some of those gaps; if you don’t tie up loose ends, you’re wasting an opportunity.

4. Using renegotiation (and the kids) as a tool for vengeance

In particularly contentious divorces, one parent might be tempted to extend the custody battle as a way of getting back at the other. This is a bad idea because it turns the children into pawns in your personal dispute. Since the court’s goal is the best interest of the children, anything that demonstrates you are not acting in their best interests will backfire on you. Just don’t do it.

5. Not seeking legal representation

Child custody is a nuanced and tricky business. If you attempt to renegotiate without the help of a skilled attorney, you’re likely to be just as unhappy with the outcome than you were the first time. Always seek professional legal counsel before trying to renegotiate child custody and visitation agreements.