Nov
29

Holiday Schedules: Why “Oh, We’ll Work it Out Later” Doesn’t Really Work

The holidays form childhood memories that last a lifetime.  Every parent finds each one as important as the next.  When parents are working out custody issues, it is common, however, for parents to focus only on the main issues such as custody, child support, and any property division.  After hammering out of all the details, at the end, there is a tendency for weary parents to push the holiday schedule to the side, or state in the proposed decree “the parties will alternate holidays” or will “share holidays  as agreed.”   The rush to move on ultimately is the same a...

Nov
8

Custody Determinations and Orders for Protection - Minnesota Statute 518.17

An Order for Protection (OFP) is a civil order prohibiting a family or household member from contacting the petitioning party when domestic abuse has occurred, or there is an imminent threat that domestic abuse will occur.  A judge can grant an Order for Protection for up to two years, and there is no cost to file.  A parent can apply for an Order for Protection for herself or himself.  A person may also apply on behalf of his or her minor child if the child has been the victim of abuse or a threat of abuse exists.  The petition process itself includes a sworn written statement that...

Sep
21

New and Improved - the Best Interest Standard for Child Custody in MN

Minnesota’s New “Best Interest Factors” for Child Custody

This summer Minnesota enacted significant changes to Minnesota Statute Section 518.17, which defines the best interests test for child custody matters.   Previously, when tasked with decisions regarding child custody and parenting time, Minnesota courts engaged in a two-step process. The first step involved weighing 13 “best interest” factors.. These 13 factors included everything from the wishes of the child to the ability of a parent to raise the child in an environment that provided appropriate cultural and religious...

Sep
21

Why Should We Go to Mediation?

Why Should I Go to Mediation with My Spouse if We Are Divorcing?

A couple who is in the process of divorce understandably may not be on good terms with each other.  But this does not mean that is futile to meet and have a conversation, as long as it is in an appropriate setting, with the mutual intention of working towards an agreement.  

Mediation and Social or Financial Early Neutral Evaluation are types of alternative dispute resolution processes that are encouraged, and often court ordered, for couples seeking to divorce in Minnesota.  In many cases, these processes pave the way for...

Feb
26

Moving with Your Child Out of State: Sole Custody is Not Enough

Minnesota, being the cold state that it is, prompts many daydreams about moving to a warmer climate.  However, if you are the mother of a minor child and not married to the child’s father, you should consult with a family attorney before packing your bags, even though you may have sole custody.

Occasionally, we hear discouraged fathers lament that Minnesota courts favor mothers when it comes to decisions about child custody, before they have had an opportunity to know about their rights.  Family law attorneys know that Minn. Stat. Sec. 257.541, subd. 1 (2015) automatically grants sole...

Nov
26

Special Announcement for Undocumented Fathers of U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident Children: Establish Your Parental Rights!

There are many benefits to being legally recognized as the parent of a child.   In Minnesota, an unmarried father can voluntary sign a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) with his child’s mother, or establish paternity through family court.  Upon recognition or adjudication of legal parentage, a father has the right to seek custody and parenting time through family court, and be legally obligated to pay child support to the child’s mother. 

Some parents who do not have lawful immigration status may hesitate to complete paperwork or navigate the court system out of fear of contact with...

Nov
6

Child Support: An Obligation, No Matter the Parent’s Immigration Status

Minnesota family law lawyers often hear the question from parents who live apart from their child: “How much will I have to pay for child support?” The lawyer turns to the Minnesota Child Support Calculator online and inputs the relevant information, such as the number of minor joint children, each parent’s gross monthly income, the percentage of parenting time, and the cost of medical insurance.  The client (who is often the father, but not always) may be surprised to hear that his gross monthly income is used in the calculation rather than his take-home pay, and his monthly living...

Aug
15

Obtaining a Passport for a Minor Child

When planning an international vacation, travelling parents should ensure that their U.S. citizen children have passports and be aware of the special requirements for minors under the age of 16.  There may be hurdles if the child’s parents are not married; renewing a passport can be an issue since passports for children under 16 are only valid for 5 years and the parents’ relationship may have changed since the issuance of the first passport so mutual consent (or even communication) is nonexistent.  To make it even more cumbersome, parents of minors under 16 must apply in person for...

Jul
28

Change in Minnesota’s Custody Law Effective August 1, 2014

Did you know that the Minnesota Legislature has clarified that there is no presumption regarding custody except in cases of domestic abuse? This is an important change in the law that will go into effect on August 1, 2014.  Minn. Stat. Sec. 518.17, subd. 2 has been amended to state, “There is no presumption for or against joint physical custody, except when domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred between the parents.” 

So what does a judge consider when a child’s parents cannot agree on custody? Some fathers may discouragingly assume that a judge will always...

Jun
3

Seeking an Order for Protection for Domestic Abuse

An Order for Protection (OFP) is a civil order that primarily prohibits a respondent party’s contact with the petitioning party following an incident of domestic abuse and restrains the respondent from committing further domestic abuse.  Under the Domestic Abuse Act found in Minn. Stat. Sec. 518B.01 (2013), domestic abuse means any of the following acts by a family or household member: physical harm, bodily injury or assault; the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm bodily harm, or assault; terroristic threats; criminal sexual conduct; or interference with an emergency call.  A...

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