In Minnesota, "family law" involves a multitude of practice areas, including divorce, custody, child support, paternity, grandparent rights, adoption, prenuptial agreements and domestic abuse. Some counties have a separate and distinct family court, while other counties do not.

Some couples wait years before getting the green light to adopt. This is (or at least, by all rights, should be) an exhilarating time. But the adoption process can also be exhausting, consuming emotional and financial resources. And life’s other stresses can add up as well.

What happens when a couple getting an adoption decides to part ways? Does the process necessarily terminate? If not, who gets custody of the child, and how does child support and visitation work?

The answers to these (and similar) questions depend sensitively on the details of your relationship, your financial situation and where you are in the adoption process. Getting a divorce will not necessarily ruin your chances, but it can greatly complicate matters.

Factors affecting your next steps can include:

  • The best interests of the child. If a court thinks that letting the adoption continue would present a hardship to the child in question, it will likely choose to halt the process.
  • The wishes of the birth parents. The birth parents may stipulate that they want the child to go to a stable, married family. Or the agency may put a stop to the adoption because of the anticipated divorce-related chaos. The birth parents may also decide to let the adoption continue with one or both custodial parents.
  • Special constraints on international adoptions. Some international adoption agencies impose specific rules about what kind of home can welcome a child.

Whatever you do, don’t stay married just because you want a child. It’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to the child. Suspicious circumstances surrounding your divorce could result in the courts halting your adoption as well. Adoption during divorce can be tricky, but it is possible. For more information about protecting your Minnesota adoption process, contact us for a confidential initial consultation.

 

Divorce law varies by state, and each state has its own idiosyncrasies. If you’re preparing to file for a Minnesota divorce, you may be surprised to learn about the follow peculiarities of our laws:

  1. It Doesn’t Matter Who Is “At Fault” for Your Divorce.

Minnesota follows a no-fault system when it comes to divorce. That means addiction, affairs, and abuse are not grounds for divorce; a spouse need only show an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. The courts aren’t interested in your spouse’s misconduct when it comes to property division or awarding spousal maintenance, but bad behavior may affect custody and visitation arrangements. This also means that the person initiating the divorce does not automatically have an upper hand.

  1. Are You a New Minnesota Resident? You May Not Be Able to Get Divorced Here.

Have you moved in Minnesota within the past six months? If so, the courts will reject your divorce petition. If this applies to you, you have two options: wait the six months and file again, or file in your previous home state.

  1. Calculating Spousal Maintenance Can Get Complex.

In some states, only the unemployed may receive spousal maintenance from their partners. In Minnesota, however, the courts determine alimony differently. A holistic approach looks at the length of the marriage, the current standard of living, and each partner’s ability to pay.

  1. Just Because an Asset is Titled in Your Named Doesn’t Mean You’ll Automatically Get It.

For example, Dave purchased a truck four years after he and Janet tied the knot. Although the truck is technically titled in his name, since he purchased it during the marriage, Minnesota law considers it marital property. This rule also generally applies to pensions, debt, and retirement accounts.

Divorce can be a trying time, and it’s best to approach the system proactively. An experienced Minnesota divorce attorney can help you navigate the process while protecting your best interests. Contact the skillful attorneys at Brown Law Offices for a strategic review of your legal options: 763-323-6555.

October is one of the most beautiful months of the year in Minnesota. The temperatures are perfect, and fall color lights the sky. Make the most of your visitation time by engaging in one of these fun activities this month:

  1. Visit a Pumpkin Patch or Apple Orchard

Kids of all ages enjoy fall festivities outside. Visit a local pumpkin patch, and have each child pick out a pumpkin for carving, or visit a U-Pick orchard for seasonal produce. These farms also have other activities like corn mazes, petting farms, and fresh cider.

  1. Take in a Football Game

Whether you’re a Golden Gopher, a Viking, or a Maverick, football can be a fun way to spend the day with your children, particularly if they’re older. October brings some of the most entertaining Big Ten matchups to TCF Bank Stadium, while NFC North battles heat up the professional gridiron.

  1. Go to Minneapolis Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest in Minneapolis offers something for young and old alike–take in authentic German music and fare, watch people in lederhosen, and even learn to dance the polka.

  1. Find Halloween Fun

While trick or treating might be for October 31st, many places offer an opportunity to wear your costumes all month. Find a haunted house, visit a trunk or treat, or go to a costume contest. Anoka is the self-proclaimed Halloween capital of the world and offers events all October long.

  1. Celebrate the Harvest

Finally, do something to celebrate the harvest season. Minnesota pays homage to the harvest with scarecrow contests, pumpkin weigh-offs, “booyahs,” and craft fairs. The Stillwater Harvest Fest features a giant pumpkin boat race, while the Applefest and Catapult Contest in Alexandria is sure to garner some laughs.

Minnesota offers plenty of outdoor entertainment during the month of October. On rainy days, consider staying in and making pizza together or watching a family-friendly movie. Filling your schedule with fall fun will help you make the most of your visitation time, but remember: the thing your kids want to do most is spend time with you. The rest is just details!

Once divorce proceedings have begun, procrastinating is one of the worst things you can do. No one particularly wants the headaches of paperwork, lawyer consultation and other details, but it’s a safe bet that your ex is not procrastinating on his or her end, and you don’t want to find yourself at a disadvantage. Here are 6 signs of distraction you need to watch for when working on your Minnesota divorce.

1. Too busy with work

One of the most common ways to put off divorce details is suddenly to find yourself with too much to do at the office. While there’s always work to be done, you probably don’t have to take on as much responsibility as you are. Discipline yourself to keep your normal office hours and don’t use work as an excuse.

2. Too busy with “other” paperwork

There’s nothing better to distract yourself from something unpleasant than something else that’s only slightly less unpleasant. Now is not the time to start figuring out your taxes, for example, or to start an argument with an insurance company over your recent fender-bender.

3. Over-socializing

From spending hours a day on social media to signing up for three different bowling leagues, it’s easy to find so many after-hours activities that you barely have time for anything else. If you’re overdoing the social life, try limiting your outings to one per week until the divorce is final. Also, limit your social media time to an hour or less per day.

4. Home projects

You’ve spent years avoiding cleaning out that garage. Why all of a sudden are you so motivated to do it now? Major projects at home that suddenly must be done now are a clear sign you’re looking for distractions.

5. Rebound relationship

This is potentially a huge distraction, and also a dangerous one because it might be used as leverage against you. If necessary, press pause on your dating life for the moment. Your new romance will do much better without a pending divorce hanging over it, anyway.

6. Over-scrutinizing the process itself

If you find yourself suddenly unhappy with how your divorce attorney is handling things, or you decide to undo a part of the negotiations that have been settled for weeks, these may be subtle signs of a deeper issue. Divorce can be scary, and it’s easy to create delays subconsciously to avoid facing the day when it becomes official. Changes are fine, but if you’re suddenly finding fault with things you’ve already approved, it’s time to ask yourself why.

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.

Adopting a child with special needs in Minnesota is like adopting any other child, with a few differences. Five things you should know about special needs adoption include:

1. “Special needs” can refer to a variety of issues – Special needs children waiting for adoption may have mental, emotional, physical, or behavioral disabilities. MN Adopt considers sibling groups in the “special needs” category, as well. Before adopting, consider the nature of these and determine whether you have the parental skills and the financial and logistical abilities to accommodate those needs.

2. Diverse factors cause challenges with child development – Special needs children may have been neglected or abused; or exposed to chemicals or drugs in prenatal development. They may have a genetic disorder. If abused, their abuse may have been emotional, sexual, psychological, or physical, or a combination of the above. Identifying the root cause of the challenges can help you and your family adapt and nurture the child effectively.

3. You may qualify for expense reimbursement from the government – In some cases, a family adopting a special needs child may be eligible to receive reimbursement for certain non-recurring expenses.

4. Waiting lists tend to be shorter – Many adopting parents don’t feel they are equipped to handle special needs. As a result, the waiting list is generally shorter for special needs children.

5. Support groups abound to help you and your family – These groups welcome adoptive parents and provide resources to help families with special needs. To find one, Google [your child’s special need] + “support group” + [your local town]  (example: “autism support group in Minneapolis”).

Are you and your family excited to open your hearts to a little boy or girl who could benefit from your love and care? Consult a family law attorney with the Brown Law Offices at 763-323-6555 for a private case consultation.

Blame it on television, movies, or messy celebrity splits — divorce has a reputation for being a contentious, litigation-based affair, with little room for compromise. Those who have not navigated the divorce process may envision couples screaming and yelling at each other in the courtroom as the judge tries in vain to keep the peace.  Thankfully, this level of divorce drama is no longer a reality for most couples, as mediation allows spouses to complete divorce proceedings in a calm, mature manner.

How Does Mediation Work?

The ultimate goal of mediation is to keep divorce out of the courtroom. Instead of a judge looming over the case, a third-party mediator is hired to act as a peace broker. The mediator listens carefully to both spouses as they voice their concerns, and, from there, offers detailed feedback and possible solutions. A skilled mediator can thereby make the divorce process feel more like an amicable bartering session than a messy courtroom battle.

Mediation and the Science of Cooperation

Millions of years of evolution have convinced people that competition is always better, whether in the classroom, at work, or in divorce court. This impulse can be difficult to overcome, but as Harvard University Professor of Biology Martin Nowak points out, there is great value in ignoring the competitive instinct and opting for cooperation. In his book “SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed,” Nowak explains that successful cooperation often involves a “tit for tat” approach, along with an emphasis on generosity, forgiveness, and optimism. Mediation incorporates all three qualities — and that’s exactly why so many couples exit the mediation process feeling satisfied with the results, despite having made certain concessions.

Mediation works well because it calls upon spouses to be their best selves, even in the face of significant disagreement. When spouses work together, they can achieve favorable outcomes, all while keeping the stress and anxiety associated with divorce to a minimum.

If you choose to settle your differences with your ex through mediation, you can still retain legal counsel from a trusted Minnesota family attorney. Look to the Brown Law Offices, P.A. for compassionate counsel.

We’ve all heard of the “seven-year itch.” It’s the time when couples get bored in a relationship and crave something new. Is there any credence to this idea, or is it just another old wives’ tale? Leading experts in human psychology say there’s no simple answer.

Austrian philosopher and Rudolf Steiner created the “seven-year itch” theory. He theorized that we experience life in seven-year cycles. We experience seismic changes in physical and intellectual experience. We’re more likely to have instability in our relationships and divorce. The theory was so popular that it led to the production of a Marilyn Monroe movie of the same name in 1955.

Some think the seven-year itch is the result of raising children through the infant years. It’s a time that takes a toll on the relationship. Others think it’s simply the average time those annoying habits become intolerable.

The Which Year Itch?

Wright State University psychology professor Larry Kurdek conducted a study in 1999 that found both the four- and seven-year itch may be true. It concluded that couples tended to experience two periods of decreased marital quality: once at the four-year mark and another at the seven-year mark. Parents of young children were more likely to experience a rapid decrease in marital quality.

Another study in 2010 found that couples were most likely to divorce at the 12-year mark. The study analyzed information from 90 law firms. It found that most couples spent a decade together before going their separate ways.

Then the parenting website Netmums conducted a survey in 2012 that examined the relationship between parents. Nearly half of the 1,500 respondents said that having a child drove them apart. Parents were most likely to split at the three-year mark as opposed to the seven-year mark. The website’s founder hypothesized that ticking biological clocks rushed couples into marriage. The couples later realized that they weren’t right for one another.

So Who’s Right?

The mixed results of each study indicate that divorce can happen at any age. Couples who don’t prioritize their marriages are more likely to divorce than those who do. Your relationship may fall apart if you don’t spend time working on it.

Ending a marriage at any stage touches off an emotional storm and raises lots of legal questions. Call a compassionate, seasoned Minnesota divorce lawyer today at 763-323-6555 for a private consultation.

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.

Just as finances can be a major source of contention in a marriage, they can be even more so during a divorce. Disentangling your ex-spouse’s finances from your own may be no simple task, especially with shared assets like home and vehicles, or with shared debts. This process can be even more complicated with an uncooperative ex, or one who happens to be fiscally irresponsible.

You might be tempted to avoid or procrastinate the task of financial disentanglement, but resist this temptation to protect both your assets and your credit. Some of the details of dividing larger assets will obviously be worked out during the divorce settlement negotiations, but for now, here are some steps you can take now to begin disentangling your ex-spouse’s finances from your own.

Set up your own bank accounts

If you haven’t done so already, open up a basic checking and savings account in your own name, and start paying bills and depositing paychecks into that account. If you still hold joint bank accounts with your ex, close these accounts as soon as possible, but do not attempt to withdraw funds without talking to your divorce attorney first, as these funds may be restricted until a divorce settlement is reached. When it comes to your own income, however, you should gain sole control of these funds as quickly as possible.

Separating credit card accounts

For any revolving credit card accounts you share with your ex, take these steps now to begin the disentanglement process:

•    Close any joint credit cards you have with your ex-spouse as soon as possible. This protects you from being held responsible if your ex decides to go on a shopping spree.

•    De-authorize your ex on any credit cards for which you are the primary cardholder.

•    Disentangle from joint cards with existing balances by opening up new cards separately and performing balance transfers. You and your ex will need to agree to how much of the debt each of you should pay, but once that’s decided, transferring those balances to your own individual credit cards will start the process of separating your shared credit history—plus, you won’t have the added worry of making sure the joint cards are being paid on time.

For larger assets like homes, cars and shared business interests, disentangling your finances will be a more complex matter reserved for the divorce settlement negotiations. But taking steps now to separate finances on a smaller scale can help you get a head start on financial stability as a single person.