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St. Paul Family Law Blog

Bill aimed at protecting child custody rights of troops approved

Minnesota residents may be interested in the story of a congressman who has been on a mission to return our servicemen and women to equal footing in child custody cases. The new defense bill includes language that may do just that. The law was motivated by cases like those of one servicewoman who returned from deployment to learn she had lost custody of her child, in part, because she was "absent" while serving her country.

This led to a nearly eight-year battle by the woman and representative Mike Turner from Ohio to eliminate the potential for state courts to use military service against a parent. In other words, the new law will preserve any pre-deployment child custody arrangement ensuring these types of cases do not happen again. This bill was introduced as part of the 2014 defense authorization measure that Congress recently passed.

St. Paul grandparents have rights too

This blog regularly focuses on the issues Minnesota parents face when divorcing or separating from their spouse. St. Paul family law attorney Janet L. Goehle, though, also strives to provide superior representation to local grandparents in the St. Paul area.

A grandparent can have a dynamic and lasting impact on a young person's life, especially if unfit parents or other factors limit the positive influences they get at home. The law recognizes this reality and provides avenues for grandparent visitation and, in some cases, custody rights for grandparents.

Minnesota professor debunking divorce myths

As it turns out, experts across the country are working to change staunch public belief that divorce rates are high and getting higher. While this past century did see an unprecedented rise in divorces, especially in the 70s and 80s, the last couple of decades have not been so divorce heavy. In fact, if current trends continue, economists believe that only a third of marriages will end in a divorce, including those in Minnesota.

This change is significant for a community which often cites divorce as a big part of our social ills. Nonetheless, other experts have dug deeper into the numbers to see what is actually going on. For instance, a Minnesota marriage therapist and professor notes that two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women. Therefore, she believes the change in divorce rates is actually a change in women's expectations.

How do you tell your friends you are getting divorced?

Despite the well-known figures that nearly half of all marriage end in divorce, the dissolution of a marriage still carries a stigma for some in modern society. As a result, many divorcees in Minnesota struggle with how to address the issue with their friends and family.

While there is no easy way to break the news, it's helpful if you are able to put a positive spin on the divorce. From gaining a fresh start, to eliminating a destructive and toxic relationship, there are things to be gained from a divorce. Focusing on these positives will allow those conversations with friends and family to run more smoothly.

Your inheritance may be at risk if you get a divorce

We all know that divorces can get messy. From child custody to retirement accounts, there are all sorts of things that can get contentious in negotiating a divorce settlement. One of the biggest sticking points in a divorce, though, can be the disposition of inherited assets. From a parent's vacation home to a grandmother's antique diamond ring, generally all assets in a divorce must be split equitably. As a result, that family property could become your ex's.

The best way to avoid such a scenario is to negotiate a prenup. If there are important family assets that you currently own, or expect to own at some point in the future, it is wise to set forth an agreement with your spouse with regard to that particular asset. The problem, though, is many of us do not think that far ahead. Owning Grandpa's hunting cabin decades from now is not usually a huge concern in the months before a marriage. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, then, divorcing spouses are left to defend their rights to inherited property with little ammunition.

Resources available for parents with child custody questions

We all hope that we never have to deal with child custody or parenting time issues. The reality, however, is that many parents must confront those issues. Whether it be as the result of a divorce, separation or other family dynamic, making children a priority often results in legal proceedings to make sure they are properly cared for.

Parents with questions about the child custody process are not alone. Thousands of local Minnesota parents and professionals have been through the process too. Altruistically, these individuals have gathered information at the Minnesota State Law Library to help parents educate themselves on custody, parenting time, and support issues.

Son of Minnesota Vikings' part-owner in divorce proceedings

Divorce proceedings have been known to take on interesting narratives. As the emotions run high and spouses recognize the assets at stake, finger-pointing and story-telling can run rampant. A recent case involving the son of David Mandelbaum, a Vikings' co-owner, though, presented a novel storyline.

The scenario began when the wealthy Mandelbaum's wife of more than 20 years filed for divorce in New Jersey. Like Minnesota, New Jersey is an equitable division state, meaning marital assets must be divided in a fair and equitable fashion. Mandelbaum's argument, though, was that he was never married at all. According to him, the couple did not get their marriage license until a few days after the ceremony, a technical violation of New Jersey law. Since there was no marriage, Mandelbaum argued, there can be no divorce or equitable distribution of assets he claimed were his alone.

Minnesota students have child support and custody problems

This blog regularly focuses on the issues parents face in a divorce or separation. From child support to custody issues, parents can be put in a financial bind when a family issue arises. A recent report from U.S. News & World Report, however, sheds light on a small segment of parents with a unique set of concerns.

College students in Minnesota, as many know, are often cash strapped. This can be especially true for the minority of students that are also parents. As Susan Warfield, program director for the Student Parent HELP Center at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities explains, these individuals face financial concerns like day care that most other students are oblivious to. These burdens get even more pronounced when there is a custody issue.

Can a Minnesota parent change an existing child support order?

It's axiomatic that divorce carries with it a financial burden. Spouses go from sharing expenses on a single household to having support two households. The state of Minnesota's priority, however, is making sure the children in a divorce or separation are taken care of. As a result, these splits often involve child support order to ensure children do not get the short end of a stick.

These support agreements, like most resolutions achieved during a divorce, are difficult to change. This difficulty can be frustrating for those struggling with the increasing cost of living and/or other factors affecting a support arrangement which has not kept up with the times.

How much control does a parent have after a divorce in Minnesota?

Recently, Minnesota parents may have been abuzz with lively debates over the pros and cons of various parenting tactics in light of Vikings star Adrian Peterson's legal troubles related to whipping his son. This issue happens to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Attachment Parenting International, a group that actually supports certain levels of corporal punishment for children.

Aside from the punishment issues, local parents debate countless other issues, such as the extent of breast feeding, educational choices and how much time a kid should spend in front of a video screen. Given the myriad of choice that a parent can make, many wonder what type of authority they will have over such things after a divorce. The answer lies in the child custody and parenting agreement worked out between the parents and the court.

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