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St. Paul Family Law Blog

You can't divorce a dead person

Couples going through a divorce in Minnesota often face numerous personal, economic, legal and emotional challenges. State courts have also had to address the seemingly perplexing but not entirely unexpected issue where a party to a marriage dies before the divorce is finalized.

When a spouse dies before the marriage is dissolved, the marital relationship no longer exists. When this occurs, any pending divorce or dissolution is terminated. Or, as Minnesota courts state, one cannot divorce a dead person.

Court rules that wife must accept terms of prenuptial agreement

A divorce can sometimes turn into an epic legal battle, especially a divorce that deals with high assets. It's during times like this that a prenuptial agreement can often be the determining factor regarding a couple's assets. However, for one well-to-do socialite, the prenuptial agreement that she signed will prevent her from obtaining a more generous divorce settlement.An appeals court has just ruled that Alexandra Lumiere Gottlieb must accept the terms of the prenuptial agreement that she signed before marrying her husband, hedge fund czar Jacob Gottlieb back in 2006. This means that she will receive a total of only $1.6 million dollars as a divorce settlement, even though her ex-husband makes $54 million dollars a year.

The couple was married in 2006 and has two children. Jacob filed for divorce in 2012. At that time, Gottlieb tried to enforce the terms of the prenuptial agreement that Lumiere signed in 2006 before they were married. Lumiere countersued in an attempt to overturn the terms of the prenup.

What issues does a temporary relief hearing take into account?

Getting a divorce can be very complicated. There are usually a number of issues that must be resolved including alimony, distribution of property, child custody and child support and sometimes these issues can take many months to iron out. That's why in Minnesota divorcing spouses can request a temporary relief hearing during the early stages of a divorce. But what divorce issues does a temporary relief hearing consider?

The temporary relief hearing takes place very early during the divorce process, usually just after the Petition for Divorce has been served and either of the spouses can request the hearing. The party asking for the hearing must first serve the papers for the hearing to the other party. This petition also includes an affidavit that must be signed. The papers must also include specific information about the spouses including their expenses and income, which parent currently has custody of the children and if the other parent should be granted custody. These forms must be completed by both sides before any hearing.

How does divorce affect life insurance in Minnesota?

Many marital and legal obligations for couples are dissolved in a Minnesota divorce. However, divorce may not automatically extinguish some agreements and responsibilities incurred before the dissolution of the marriage unless state law terminates a specific obligation.

For example, a Minnesota divorce legally ends all rights of a person to receive property in a spouse's will executed before the divorce. The law treats the beneficiary spouse as if they predeceased the testator.

What three components determine Minnesota child support payments?

Child support can become a major source of distress during a divorce. That's frequently because the custodial parent seeks an amount that the non-custodial parent thinks is unfair. However, Minnesota courts use a specific formula in order to determine how much child support should be paid. But what areas of child care does the court take into consideration before establishing this amount?

A family court in Minnesota uses the "income shares" method for figuring out child support and it will use three different components to help determine the amount of financial help needed for the child. The first part is known as basic support. As indicated, this portion of child support helps to pay for food, clothes and housing. Additional items such as transportation and education can also be used to help determine basic support.

Minnesota adopts new best interests of the child standards

Minnesota court decisions on child custody are based upon the best interests of the child. The legislature enacted a new list of 12 legal factors to be considered in determining the child's best interests. The new factors took effect on Aug. 1, 2015. These elements apply to all custody cases without making any presumptions as to sole or joint custody. A rebuttable legal presumption still applies in favor of joint legal custody if there is no domestic abuse.

Courts must make findings on each of the 12 elements. First, the child's physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual needs have to be considered.

How are grandparents' visitation rights recognized in Minnesota?

Minnesota divorce and visitation issues often involve disputes between the parents over their rights to custody and other matters pertaining to their children. Child custody planning, however, should also incorporate rights legally afforded to grandparents in this state.

Minnesota's legislature reacted to the absence of grandparents' rights by enacting a law allowing them some visitation rights independent of the parent's wishes. The law also provides visitation rights to grandparents where the parents were never married.

Common court forms used during a Minnesota divorce: part 2

One of last month's blogs took a look at common divorce forms that are used in the state of Minnesota. Specifically it examined two forms; a summons and a petition for the dissolution of a marriage. This week's blog will explore two additional divorce forms used in the state. But remember that not every divorce uses every specific divorce form. These are just examples of more common forms used in Minnesota.

Another typical divorce form is known as the Admission of Service Form. This form is used after an individual (known as the Respondent) has received a petition for the dissolution of a marriage. The Respondent then has 30 days to answer the petition. If the respondent agrees with the action stated in the petition, then he or she can sign the Admission Form. But doing this means that the Respondent relinquishes any and all formal action about the statements contained in the Admission Form.

Protecting your family is our number one priority

Divorce can be hard emotionally and financially for everyone involved. It can seem heartbreaking when couples come to the realization that a lifetime of marriage living happily is not a reality. And if the decision to divorce is not a mutual decision, things can become even more difficult.

During the process of a divorce emotions can run high and it isn't uncommon for the heart to take over the mind, leading to irrational or not well-considered decisions. It is important during all phases of divorce to have a strong support team. Whether it is family, friends or legal representation, fresh eyes observing a situation can lead to stronger and wiser decisions for all parties involved.

Proper drafting of pleadings is essential in child custody cases

Family law rulings on divorce and child custody often depend not only on laws but on interpretations and decisions of the Minnesota Supreme Court. These judicial rulings become precedent that governs how marriages are dissolved, support is awarded or child custody is determined.

Modification of custody decisions in Minnesota must comply with the Nice-Petersen rule, named after a 1981 state Supreme Court decision. In that case the Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge acted properly in denying an ex-husband's request to modify a child custody award, even though the trial judge denied the request without affording the ex-husband an evidentiary hearing. This rule illustrates the importance of properly drafting modification requests in addition to presenting evidence.

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