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.

Blended families are increasingly common, especially as many parents bypass marriage altogether. Whether parents split through divorce or legal separation, their family’s classification as blended can cause unique complications. Below, we examine some of the most common issues Minnesota parents face when divorcing for the second or third time:

Custody And Visitation

For blended families, arrangements regarding parenting time are rarely straightforward — especially when stepchildren are involved. If you or your spouse brought children from another relationship into your marriage, visitation and custody are by no means guaranteed following divorce. In resolving these issues, courts consider whether the stepparent has legally adopted his or her stepchildren — and whether visitation would be in the children’s best interests. Petitioners must demonstrate clear emotional ties that reflect parent-child relationships. Furthermore, petitioning stepparents must prove that visitation rights would not harm the child’s relationship with his or her biological parents.

Child Support

In addition to impacting visitation arrangements, second or third divorces can hold significant financial implications — namely, in regards to child support. Minnesota courts may take into account both children from the currently dissolving marriage and those from previous relationships. Parentage and step-parentage also play a critical role; stepparents may owe child support if they have legally adopted their stepchildren.

Given the complexity of divorce in blended families, it is absolutely imperative that you work with a skilled family lawyer. Whether your primary concerns involve child custody, visitation, or support, your attorney can help you arrive at the best possible outcome for both you and your family — no matter its size or scope.

Whether you’re on your first, second, or third divorce, the team at the Brown Law Offices can help. Get in touch today to learn more about our approach to blended family divorces.

 

Parenthood is tough in the best of circumstances. Sometimes, parents just aren’t cut out for the task of successfully raising children. In select cases, termination of parental rights may be the best option for both the parent and his or her children. This is a sensitive manner that warrants considerable thought, however. Read on to learn more about your rights as a parent — and when terminating those rights might be a viable solution.

Can Termination of Parental Rights Be Voluntary?

In Minnesota, termination of parental rights can occur on a voluntary or involuntary basis. Involuntary termination occurs if the court deems that you’ve abandoned your child or that you have repeatedly neglected to comply with your responsibilities as parent (for example, not feeding your child or refusing to provide adequate financial support).

If you pursue voluntary termination, you will agree to forgo your rights as parent — for the benefit of your child. Keep in mind, however, that termination cannot occur simply because you’re looking for a loophole to paying child support.

Is Termination the Best Option?

In select cases, termination of parental rights can prove beneficial for both children and their parents. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, however. Does another option exist? Perhaps you can make arrangements for the child’s other parent to take over custody.

Remember, courts generally deem it in the child’s best interest to maintain relationships with both parents. While you may think that terminating your rights as a parent will benefit your child, it could cause considerable harm if you are, in fact, a competent parent. Minnesota parents are often unfairly pressured into terminating their rights; when in doubt, seek assertive representation from an attorney you trust.

Termination of parental rights is a complex matter that warrants sensitive handling by an expert. Look to the Brown Law Offices for assistance with your legal situation.

You took your family case to court in hopes of emerging with a favorable outcome that would benefit not only you, but also those you love most. Unfortunately, you were extremely disappointed with the court’s verdict — and you suspect that the negative results stemmed from a misapplication of state law. What now?

Depending on the nature of your case, all hope of a desirable resolution may not be lost. Appealing your case may be a viable option — but it won’t be easy. Read on to learn more about the family law appeals process in Minnesota:

Which Cases Are Eligible For Appeals?

Securing an appeal can be surprisingly tricky for Minnesota residents. Most appellate cases must be filed within sixty days of the trial court judgment’s entry. Keep in mind that the Minnesota Court of Appeals is notoriously strict with deadlines.

Appeals can only be made after a final order has been declared. Temporary relief orders cannot be appealed, as this could cause the state’s Court of Appeals to hear the same case on multiple occasions.

What Does the Appeals Process Involve?

The appeals process typically begins with filing necessary fees and paperwork. This essential step may be followed by participation in the state’s appellate mediation program. Select cases may be exempted from appellate mediation upon request.

If the issue is not resolved in mediation, the case may proceed to appellate court, which consists of a panel of judges. These judges may affirm the initial decision or send the case back to the trial court for further analysis. Remember, the appeals process is not merely a do-over — it’s a review of the trial judge’s application of the law.

 

Look to the Brown Law Offices for assistance as you proceed with your family law appeal. Contact us today to learn more about our track record in appellate court.

Say what you want about the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) — it delivered at least a few unexpected benefits. Perhaps the most surprising: reduced likelihood of divorce among a specific population: middle-aged, college-educated spouses. Read on to learn how Medicaid expansion reduced the divorce rate — and why.

When Lack of Health Care Prompts Divorce

The interplay between ObamaCare and divorce rate is perhaps best explained by a compelling story from a 2009 New York Times  column. The Nicholas Kristof piece highlighted a woman forced to choose between destitution and divorce as she faced the exorbitant cost of treatment for her husband’s early-onset dementia. She chose divorce. She was far from alone in making such an unthinkable decision.

ObamaCare and Divorce: By the Numbers

A noteworthy study from University of Kansas researchers Donna Ginther and David Slusky suggests that the Medicaid expansion accompanying the ACA decreased divorce prevalence by 11.6 percent — specifically for college-educated spouses between the ages of 50 and 64.

Prior to the ACA, several states limited the assets couples could possess before they qualified for Medicaid. Hence, couples were forced to spend down their assets before they could qualify. By necessity, many couples divorced so as to protect at least one spouse’s property. With Medicaid expansion, asset limits were removed, allowing low-income spouses to qualify regardless of assets.

Interestingly, a Supreme Court ruling made the removal of asset caps strictly optional. Researchers later compared the states that removed asset caps with those that kept them; reduced divorce rates occurred wherever low-income spouses with greater assets were allowed access to Medicaid.

No matter the role health care plays in your divorce, you can count on the Brown Law Offices for help. Call us at 763-323-6555 to learn more about the practical elements of divorce — and how our team can help you secure the best possible outcome.

There’s no escaping it: your divorce will be tough on your children. While they may ultimately benefit from happier parents and reduced household fighting, any change this significant is bound to be challenging. Unfortunately, the trouble doesn’t end with emotional duress; your split could have a real impact on your kids’ academic pursuits both now and years in the future.

Struggles in Math

A 2011 study published in the American Sociological Review found that children of divorce struggled to keep up with their non-divorced peers in math. Unfortunately, these issues did not disappear after the divorce; children who fell behind their peers remained behind. Interestingly, researchers didn’t see kids suffer academically until their parents’ divorce was underway.

The silver lining? Children of divorce maintained similar reading scores, perhaps because reading does not rely on cumulative knowledge to the same extent as math.

Long-Term Effects

Divorce-related academic problems in grade school may lead to further issues in high school and beyond. In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25-Year Landmark Study, Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee reveal that adult children of divorce are less likely to graduate from college than their parents.

Researchers theorized that children of divorce were more likely to complete college in states that mandate child support until age 21, or for couples that planned for higher education in their divorce settlement. However, many students received support their freshman and sophomore years, but not their final two years of college. Unable to handle the financial burden, these students typically dropped out.

Careful planning can mitigate the potential academic issues associated with divorce. Call 763-323-6555 to learn how the Brown Law Offices can assist you in achieving favorable child custody and support outcomes.

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.