Minnesota is a "no-fault" divorce state, and has been since the mid 1970's. Typical issues involved in a divorce include custody, child support, property division and spousal maintenance. While some divorces come to conclusion following a trial, the vast majority of cases resolve outside of the courtroom.

Social media has thrown many divorces for a loop by bringing new and unexpected forms of evidence into the dissolution process. Often, seemingly innocuous errors can hold huge implications for both spouses.

In Part 1 of our series on shocking social media mistakes, we delved into a few real-life scenarios involving adjusted alimony and even criminal indictments. Now, we explore celebrity examples of divorce-related social media gaffes:

Liking the Wrong Page or Status Update

Active posting alone won’t get you in trouble; your behavior on social media extends well beyond what you post on your wall. Likes and comments can come back to haunt you. Such was the case for actress Anna Faris, who blew the lid on her separation by ‘liking’ a post about divorce one week before she and Chris Pratt made their big announcement. While she didn’t suffer too much, it bears repeating that likes and comments could have stronger implications in some divorce cases, perhaps even impacting alimony or child custody.

Ranting About Exes On Social Media

Reality star Roger Mathews’ divorce from Jenni ‘JWoww’ Farley may still be pending, but it appears that he has done lasting damage to his custody case with a recent social media rant. In a disturbing Instagram post, Mathews used threatening language. A small sample: “I hope you die a slow painful death…just for fun. (Which is the most powerful setting and is like being shot by a police taser).” While we have yet to see the full impact of this behavior play out in court, it’s likely that Mathews’ behavior could lead to the loss of custody or parenting time — he could be deemed incapable of providing a safe home environment for his children.

If social media is throwing you for a loop as you navigate the divorce process, don’t hesitate to seek feedback from the Brown Law Offices.

Research suggests that Facebook prompts approximately one-third of modern divorces. But that’s just the beginning. Once the separation process is underway, couples find themselves navigating new social media complications. What can they post? What can be used as evidence? In this blog series, we’ll take a look at some of the most shocking social media mistakes that caused major misery for divorcing couples.

Alimony Impacted By Belly Dancing Pictures

Dorothy McGurk originally scored $850 in monthly alimony due to injuries from a previous accident that allegedly left her unable to work. That is, until her ex-husband Brian discovered belly dancing images along with a treasure trove of other incriminating photos online. These social media updates made it abundantly clear that McGurk was far more capable of working than she’d indicated while negotiating her original alimony settlement. Her social media flub resulted in a court ruling that saw her alimony cut in half.

Threatening Rap Lyrics

Social media’s interplay with Facebook is so significant, it has already reached the Supreme Court. It all began when Anthony Douglas Elonis posted terrifying rap lyrics to Facebook under a pseudonym. A grand jury indicted him on several counts of threatening not only his estranged wife, but also park employees and local law enforcement officials.

Ultimately, Elonis prevailed, as the Supreme Court reversed the initial decision. Still, this case holds considerable implications for future situations involving threats (whether real or perceived) posted to social media. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid posting anything that could be deemed threatening — even under a pseudonym.

Look to the Brown Law Offices for assistance as you navigate the complicated interplay of social media and divorce. Reach out today to get started.

Divorces are rarely as amicable as spouses desire, but most spouses are at least able to limit their aggression to verbal outbursts in court. Sadly, for some spouses, divorce is more than a battle over property or child support; it is, quite literally, a life-or-death situation. It is far from unheard of for spouses to lash out upon learning of their impending separation. Sometimes, the consequences are deadly.

Why Divorce Triggers Violence

Domestic violence is far too prominent in modern marriages, but in some cases, the real threat begins after couples have separated. The presence of children doesn’t mitigate the problem, but rather, appears to be correlated with domestic violence. According to a 2012 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women living with children but without a spouse suffer intimate partner violence at ten times the rate of those living with both spouses and children.

What Can Be Done to Protect Spouses?

In most cases, spouses need not fear for their safety when filing for divorce. For others, however, warning signs may exist. How spouses respond to mere discussions of divorce can say a lot about how they’ll react if actually presented with papers. Additionally, a history of violence within the marriage could strongly indicate the potential for even worse conduct during the divorce.

If you suspect that you may be at risk upon filing for divorce, it may be worth your while to pursue an Order for Protection. Often referred to as a restraining order, this legal action can provide some semblance of protection as you proceed with your divorce. If you successfully secure a restraining order, your ex will be prohibited from contacting you for a specific period of time.

Whether you desire a restraining order or are looking to file for divorce, you can count on the Brown Law Offices for assistance. Reach out to learn more about our broad range of family law services.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sveen v. Melin has proven groundbreaking for many reasons. In our last article, we offered background information on this landmark case. Next, we’ll take an in-depth look at how Sveen v. Melin might impact divorcees in Minnesota and across the nation.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling

In a rare 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sveen’s children. New Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch was the lone dissenter. In breaking with the majority, he hoped to draw attention to the application of the Constitution’s Contracts Clause. However, Justice Elena Kagan explained, “the law is unlikely to disturb any policyholder’s expectations because it does no more than a divorce court could always have done.”

How the Supreme Court’s Decision Will Impact Future Divorces in Minnesota

Minnesota is one of over two dozen states that maintains revocation on divorce — a practice involving the removal of beneficiary rights after a couple ends their marriage. As in many states, this approach is based on a notable Uniform Probate Code amendment, which refers to the failure to swap beneficiaries as ‘inattention’ and not ‘intention.’ The Supreme Court’s decision allows Minnesota and other states to continue revoking beneficiary rights.

As a divorcee, the main takeaway from this case is that you are not automatically entitled to beneficiary rights simply because your ex failed to designate somebody else. That’s not to say your ex is barred from designating you as beneficiary; he or she would simply need to refile the appropriate paperwork.

As a Minnesotan considering divorce, you’re rightfully worried about the role Sveen v. Melin and current state statutes will play in your financial future. The Brown Law Offices can provide the insight and guidance you need. Reach out today to learn more.

Change is afoot in the Supreme Court, but as we’ve focused on new justices, many of us have ignored recent decisions that have a direct impact on our lives. One of the most notable? Sveen v. Melin, a case that began with a Minnesota state statute and ended with an influential ruling.

The Story Behind Sveen v. Melin

Sveen v. Melin revolved around a Minnesota statute that allows ex-spouses to be removed as post-divorce beneficiaries. It all began when Mark Sveen married Kaye Melin and purchased a life insurance policy — listing his then-wife as the primary beneficiary. When the couple divorced in 2007, the decree made no mention of the policy.

Sveen did not take steps to alter the beneficiary designation. When he died in 2011, his ex-wife remained the sole beneficiary. By that time, however, a Minnesota statute had declared that divorce automatically revoked beneficiary designation for ex-spouses.

The Role of Timing

Following Sveen’s death, his children claimed that, based on the aforementioned Minnesota statute, Melin should not be the sole beneficiary of the life insurance policy. Melin countered that Sveen purchased the policy in 1998 — well before Minnesota enacted the statute in question. She argued that it was unconstitutional to enforce a rule that didn’t apply at the time of purchase.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sveen’s children. In Part 2, we’ll examine the reasoning behind this decision, and how it might impact not only divorces, but state law in general.

Worried about how Sveen v. Melin (and divorce in general) will impact your life insurance policy? You don’t need to go it alone. Work with the Brown Law Offices to determine the best approach to your divorce.

You and your spouse have worked hard to maintain a comfortable standard of living. In some ways, your high net worth makes your divorce easier; you enjoy greater flexibility with post-split housing and are less likely to fall into debt. The downside? You might struggle to keep the details of your divorce under wraps, especially if you’re a public figure.

It’s not easy to maintain privacy during a high net worth divorce, but it’s certainly possible. Keep these key considerations in mind as you proceed:

Pursue Mediation

Diverse investment portfolios complicate matters during divorce, making it exceedingly difficult for many couples to settle their differences out of court. If, however, you want to keep your personal matters quiet, mediation or collaboration may be your best options.

In high net worth divorces, mediation and collaboration work best for spouses with similar earning power. If one spouse earned far more while married than the other, a harmful imbalance of power could ensue.

Seek Sealed Records

While courtroom divorces are technically a public matter, record sealing is available in select circumstances. For example, courts may approve sealed records if public access could harm spouses’ children. Sealed records may also occur if domestic violence played a role in the relationship.

Social Media Lockdown

Your behavior on social media could destroy any semblance of privacy surrounding your divorce. Some spouses go so far as to develop social media clauses, which restrict certain types of content. When in doubt, avoiding posting anything about your divorce, even if you’ve already maximized your social media privacy settings.

On the hunt for a discreet divorce attorney capable of keeping your personal life private? Look to the Brown Law Offices for sensitive legal representation. Call 763-323-6555 today to learn more.

It’s no secret that the divorce rate is higher for spouses with significant age gaps. But what happens when spouses of different ages decide to call it quits? The same problems that plagued them in marriage may prove evident during the divorce process.

The Realities of Retirement

Spouses at different stages in life may never see eye to eye on work and leisure, but retirement brings these differences to the forefront. Retirement may also spur financial challenges, both in marriage and divorce. The younger spouse may be dismayed by the other person’s sudden lack of income. Later, these changes play a huge role in alimony, property division, and other financial considerations.

Age Gaps and Custody

Occasionally, large age gaps between spouses may impact custody proceedings. In Minnesota, age is just one of several factors that might come into play when determining the best interests of affected children. Specifically, Minnesota courts examine “the willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time.”

While a spouse’s age may say little about his or her childrearing abilities, accompanying health issues or environmental factors could play a role. For example, courts may deem spouses with age-related chronic health conditions incapable of providing the quality of care their children require.

Age gaps can influence decision-making in marriage and divorce, but these differences don’t doom couples to courtroom drama. With strong legal guidance and the desire for a mutually beneficial outcome, couples can pull off a reasonably low-stress split, no matter their age.

As you face the realities of divorcing with an age gap, look to the Brown Law Offices for personalized legal service.

 

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.

 

ADHD’s not just for kids; experts estimate that four percent of the adult population in the United States lives with the disorder. Some mask symptoms well; others find themselves in a state of constant disarray. For many, this spills over into romantic relationships.

Your marriage is far from doomed if you or your spouse has ADHD, but it may require a little additional nurturing. Read on to learn more about the role ADHD plays in marriage (and divorce), and how you can protect your relationship.

ADHD and Divorce: The Statistics

At first glance, the numbers look grim for adults with ADHD: researchers point to a relationship maladjustment rate of nearly 60 percent. Likelihood of divorce varies based on the spouse’s age; in one study, older respondents with ADHD were twice as likely to divorce, while younger respondents saw little change in divorce likelihood.

Why Does ADHD Harm Marriages? What Can You Do About It?

As a spouse with ADHD (or married to somebody with ADHD) you’re by no means destined to divorce. However, you’ll face unique challenges that other couples easily avoid. Chief among these? Spats over cleanliness, missed deadlines, and general inattention. Non-ADHD spouses may assume that their significant other just doesn’t care. Those with ADHD are also more prone to impulsive behaviors such as drug use, gambling, or infidelity —all of which clearly cause marital conflict.

Research indicates that your marriage is far more likely to survive if you seek diagnosis and treatment. This doesn’t necessarily mean medication, although drugs prove helpful for some adults with ADHD. Others find greater success in therapy and behavioral changes (such as dietary restrictions or increased exercise). Both you and your spouse should research the disorder thoroughly to determine how it manifests itself in your marriage, and which steps can be taken to combat problematic symptoms.

As a spouse with ADHD, you need compassionate counsel from somebody who understands. Call the Brown Law Offices today to schedule your consultation; you’ll be relieved to have an understanding lawyer on your side.

Separation and divorce are increasingly common among seniors. From pensions to placement in assisted living facilities, these splits hold unique repercussions for older couples. Not all complications involve retirement, however. If your spouse is suffering from dementia, you face an especially difficult separation process. Read on for insight into this unique situation — and helpful suggestions:

Consider Skipping Mediation

Mental capacity is critical in mediation. Your spouse may not be capable of making critical decisions regarding property division and alimony — and the lack of aggressive legal representation is a hallmark of mediation. Keep in mind that mental capacity is not an all-or-nothing concept; your spouse may be capable of handling this process under close guidance from a legal professional, but perhaps not in mediation. Your lawyer can provide greater insight into the concept of capacity and how it plays into your specific case.

The Possibility of Annulment

Depending on when you married and your spouse’s condition at the time, you could be eligible for annulment. While Minnesota is a ‘no fault’ state lacking grounds for divorce, annulment is based on grounds. If you can prove that your spouse was mentally incapacitated when you tied the knot, then your spouse legally could never consent to marriage in the first place — so your marriage is not valid.

Custody Considerations

Few spouses with dementia have minor children. Those who do can expect custody to fall with the healthy parent. Minnesota courts take each party’s physical and mental health into account when determining custody; a spouse with moderate to severe dementia may not be deemed capable of handling the rigors of parenting.

Protect Your Assets

Your spouse may require months, if not years, of medical care in the near future. Divorce can protect your retirement savings from being siphoned away to pay for this treatment. Speak with a trusted family law attorney and financial advisor to understand the financial ramifications of the care burden—and plan accordingly.

Separation is always tough, but dementia can quickly complicate matters. Your lawyer should advocate assertively on your behalf, but also be sympathetic to your spouse’s difficult situation. Work with a trusted law firm such as the Brown Law Offices to ensure the best outcome for both you and your ex.