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.

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.

You’re determined to divorce your spouse. Unfortunately, this difficult decision only marks the first step in an even more challenging journey. Your relationship with your Minnesota divorce attorney may prompt a smoother path, but only if both sides communicate effectively. Keep the following in mind as you prepare for your first consultation:

Be Prepared

To communicate effectively, you need to understand your priorities and the basics of your situation. Do your homework before you meet with your attorney. Depending on your situation, this may mean outlining your goals or gathering financial documents. Your attorney will appreciate that you prepared in advance.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

There’s no room for embarrassment in an attorney-client relationship. Trust us — your lawyer has seen it all. Attempts to obfuscate the details of your divorce may feel more comfortable in the moment, but could ultimately cause huge problems. For example, in failing to disclose your ex’s abuse, you may compromise your ability to gain full custody of your children.

Know When to Ditch Minnesota Nice

As Minnesotans, we too often fall into the trap of being too ‘nice.’ In reality, our version of nice really means passive. While polite behavior is always admirable, meekness can be a problem. Don’t expect your attorney to read your mind; clearly state what you want, and why.

Don’t Overdo It

Your questions and concerns may seem pressing in the moment, but immediate contact with your attorney isn’t always the answer. Instead, take note of concerns that arise, and fill your attorney in at your next consultation. Save phone calls and emails for scheduling or settling the most urgent matters.

You don’t need Minnesota Nice in the courtroom; you need an attorney who will assertively represent your best interests. Look to the Brown Law Offices for loyal advocacy when you need it most.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

You’re on the hunt for the perfect family law attorney. You’ve looked into your prospects’ case history, academic credentials, and online reviews. You know everything important about each potential attorney — but do you, really? What about their values? This oft-forgotten concept should play a top role in your final decision.

Why You And Your Attorney Should Share Values

Trust forms the backbone of any attorney-client relationship. As a trusting client, you are more likely to share sensitive details with your lawyer, free from fear of undue judgment. If you intrinsically disagree with your attorney’s basic values, you’ll never trust him or her to act in your best interests.

For example: if you’re part of an LGBT couple and are eager to adopt a child or draft a prenuptial contract, you’ll want to work with an attorney who clearly values same-sex marriage. While a lawyer with different values may technically be capable of handling your case, this person will not tackle the matter with the drive or compassion you deserve.

Identify Key Values and Look For Associated Terminology

Before you launch your search for the perfect attorney, take some time to highlight your personal values. How do you define an ideal attorney? Note both red flags and qualities that would increase that all-important trust factor.

Next, determine how your values might translate into marketing jargon. The language your lawyer uses on social media, in blog posts, and in print materials can say a lot about his or her basic values. Key marketing terms could include:

  • Small town values
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Boutique law firm
  • Integrity
  • Spirit of cooperation
  • Trial-ready

Vet Prospects Thoroughly

Not all attorneys blatantly broadcast their values online or via print marketing materials. Even those who do may interpret common descriptors differently. Vet potential attorneys to determine what they really think. Ask targeted questions. You should come away with a clear understanding of each attorney’s legal philosophy.

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. values honest, transparent representation. Get in touch today to learn more about this respected Minnesota law firm.

The one possible downside to marriage equality? Same-sex divorce. Unfortunately, this version of dissolution can prove far more complicated than heterosexual divorce, in part because many same-sex couples lived together long before they married. Read on to learn more about same-sex divorce in Minnesota:

Minnesota and Same-Sex Marriage

Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. Voters rejected a state-based constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2012. Just a few months later, Minnesota legislature passed a hallmark same-sex marriage bill. Federal legalization followed two years later, with the Supreme Court ruling previous bans unconstitutional.

Filing For Divorce

In Minnesota, same-sex couples face the same filing requirements as other spouses. One partner must reside in the state for at least 180 days before filing. Couples married in other states or nations with legal same-sex marriage can divorce upon meeting Minnesota’s minimum residency requirement. In fact, the state’s very first divorce involved a couple originally wed in Canada.

Property Division

Many same-sex spouses lived much like married couples long before they officially tied the knot. Unfortunately, for purposes of property division, the official marital relationship does not begin until the legalization of marriage. Thus, even if you lived like a married couple for two decades, state law only recognizes joint property extending back to 2013.

Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. This means that property is divided in an equitable (or fair) matter, as opposed to equally between spouses. This classification grants a modicum of flexibility in same-sex property division. However, many couples find it easier to divide their assets via mediation, as this allows for creative solutions not often pursued in court.

Custody and Visitation

Minnesota allows same-sex couples to petition for adoption. Those with children face the same custody and visitation concerns as their heterosexual peers. Custody disputes may be complicated by second-parent adoption arrangements, which were common for gay and lesbian couples prior to 2013.

The Brown Law Offices, P.A. offers a variety of essential same-sex divorce services for Minnesota residents. Call today to schedule a case consultation.

Each new year presents fresh opportunities, but not everybody’s list of resolutions includes weight loss or household organization. For some, the end of the holiday season means a chance for new beginnings—including the pursuit of the single life. Hence, the rise in divorce during the month of January, as we explore below:

Divorce’s Uptick: The Signs

DivorcedWomenOnline.com founder Cathy Meyer observes an uptick in searches for divorce information immediately after the holidays. This leaves prospective divorcees just enough time to gather information before filing in early January. Reports from other divorce experts back up Meyer’s findings. Furthermore, statistics from eDivorcePapers.com indicate that January sees more legal breakups than any other month.

The Role of the Holiday Season

A clear link exists between January’s uptick in divorces and the timing of the holiday season. For many couples, it’s simply easier to endure a difficult, but divorce-free December than break the bad news during obligatory family gatherings. Some are less worried about upsetting loved ones and more concerned about their social standing—a lot of people frown upon December breakups.

In other cases, the stress of the holidays exacerbates already difficult circumstances, thereby making divorce more likely. Still other spouses believe that natural holiday stress could lead to a messier, less amicable divorce.

The Resolution Effect

Some people feel more confident when January 1st strikes their calendar. These newly assertive individuals may strive to fulfill relationship-related resolutions by finally calling their marriage quits.

Preparing For Tax Season

Divorce timing doesn’t always revolve around resolutions or holiday blues. Some couples are strictly practical. Their marital status on Dec. 31st determines their tax situation the following year. Some may rush to break off their marriage in hopes of making tax deadlines. In select cases, this decision can drastically impact taxation on end-of-year bonuses, which may come attached to January paychecks.

No matter your preferred timing for your divorce, it behooves you to seek representation from a skilled attorney. Brown Law Offices, P.A. can help you every step of the way. Please call for a free consultation: 763-323-6555.

During divorce, couples split everything they own. No matter how financially stable most people were before divorce, they often walk away with less than half of their assets. Frequently, divorce negatively affects credit. It takes time, but you can make sound financial decisions to repair your situation following a divorce.

Cancel Joint Accounts

If you still have bank or credit card accounts with your ex-spouse, you don’t have control of your credit. Restructure mortgages and account balances so each debt is only in one person’s name. If you decide to leave any accounts open with both of your names, make a plan for monitoring transactions and payments. Missed payments will affect your credit score even if your ex-spouse agreed to pay them.

Find Out the Details

Make a plan to repair your credit by requesting a recent copy of your report from all three credit bureaus. AnnualCreditReport.com supplies a free report every year. If you’ve already used your free copy, obtain an updated copy from each bureau, or request it from FICO.com.

Your credit score contains three digits that predict how likely you are to repay debt on time. Reports will tell you if you have negative information so you can focus on what to do next.

Assess Your Debt

Evaluate your adjusted income and expenses to develop a realistic view of your situation. If you have the resources, start to pay down debt and eliminate past delinquencies. Sometimes following divorce, both individuals struggle financially, and paying off old debts isn’t possible. Work with a qualified consumer credit counseling agency and/or a trusted financial planner to analyze your situation and develop a plan for addressing bills. In some situations, it may be necessary to file bankruptcy.

Start Building a Positive Credit History

If you’re going to change your last name, do so before you apply for new credit accounts. Talk to existing lenders, and have them update your information so everything you do going forward helps build a more positive picture of your financial situation.

Obtain credit under your new name, applying for a secured card if necessary. Borrow a small amount every month, and pay it off in full before the payment deadline to start building a positive credit history. If you have trouble getting credit from the institutions you used to use, an online search can help you find cards for people with credit problems. Be sure to vet these cards carefully, pay your balances on time and monitor progress.

Talk to an Experienced Minnesota Family Law Attorney

Divorce comes with months, sometimes years of difficult decisions. Seek advice from qualified tax, legal and financial professionals. The Minnesota family law and divorce lawyers at Brown Law Offices have been representing clients since 1998. Contact us for a confidential, thorough case evaluation.

 

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.