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.

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 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 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. 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

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.

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.