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St. Paul Family Law Blog

Can my parental rights be reinstated?

If you have had your parental rights revoked, you may be able to have them reinstated thanks to the Family Reunification Act of 2013. It used to be that once your legal relationship with your child was terminated, you were not eligible to have it reinstated. As a result, your children may have been a ward of the state and have had a court-appointed guardian making decisions regarding their care for a long time.

According to the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, this law only applies to you if your termination was issued at least 36 months prior to the filing, your child is a current ward of the state or in a foster home, and you have rehabilitated yourself so that you are now a parent who is capable of seeing to the welfare of your child and acting in the child’s best interest. You may be able to regain the opportunity to provide a better quality of life for your child, along with your legal right to be their parent again as long as your child is at least 15 years old, your parental rights have been terminated for a minimum of 36 months and your rights were not severed because of criminal or sexual misconduct.

Risks of trial may merit negotiation of divorce settlement

A spouse facing divorce can have a range of emotions about the breakdown of the marriage that may include sadness, resignation, anxiety, despair, anger or embarrassment, depending on the circumstances. Some people going into the divorce process feel extreme hostility and even a desire to "win" in court at the other spouse's expense through the traditional, adversarial court trial.

That a court trial is always the best way to divorce, however, is a misconception. In reality, leaving resolution of important issues in divorce to the discretion of a judge involves a level of risk. The bottom line is that there is no way to predict with certainty how a judge will perceive the evidence before him or her or how he or she will exercise the considerable judicial discretion involved in making comprehensive decisions about the legal issues, including child custody and visitation, child support, alimony, property division and more.

Divorce and marital property

Divorce is not just a dissolution of marriage, it also a dividing of marital property and financial assets. Some people in Minnesota find it easy to reach an agreement, while others find the path a bit more difficult. People who want to protect their rights and their assets need to be aware of how the courts handle this type of situation if neither party can reach an agreement amicably.

Splitting marital property can be challenging for couples because there are many different types of material and financial assets involved. Forbes reports that this issue can be complex because it is not always in the best interest of either spouse to divide certain property and assets. In some cases, their worth cannot be determined by their current monetary value. For example, pensions, stock portfolios and life insurance policies must be assessed and accounted for prior to an agreement can be made. Common sources of disagreement between divorcing couples are vehicles, real estate and bank accounts.

How does parental relocation affect child custody?

If you have been awarded primary custody of your children and want to move out of Minnesota, you may face certain challenges if there is a parenting time agreement in place. Noncustodial parents have rights that may be violated if they do not agree to the relocation of the children. Since moving out of state is a matter that can affect child custody agreements, parenting time, the rights of the other parent and of the children, if you hold primary custody, you must petition the court for permission to relocate out of state.

According to The Office of the Revisor of Statutes, the courts will consider your request and rule in the best interests of the children in matters involving out-of-state relocation away from the noncustodial parent when there is an existing parenting time order. The other parent will need to show proof to the court as to why the relocation should not be granted if you are a victim of domestic abuse and the other parent is the abuser. Otherwise, you as the parent who has primary custody, must prove to the courts that the move will not affect your children emotionally, financially or negatively impact their quality of life and welfare.

How parenting time affects child support

Child support orders are awarded to ensure that noncustodial parents meet their financial obligations regarding the care of their children. However in Minnesota, parenting time can affect child support orders. Child support does not automatically grant or revoke the noncustodial parent’s right to visitation or parenting time. However, if the courts feel that parenting time is detrimental to the well-being of the children, visitation can be denied. Some parents may be able to have their child support orders modified if certain parenting time conditions are met.

According to the Minnesota House of Representatives, a parent who engages in 10 to 45 percent parenting time, and makes more money than the other parent, may not be court ordered to pay child support if it is not in the best interest of the child. Parenting time can be used to facilitate child support order adjustments, only if the parenting time was ordered by the courts.

Advocating for parents in child custody: It's about the children

Child custody is among the most important issues parents deal with in divorce, perhaps the most important. For this reason, child custody disputes can often become quite contentious and can serve as a point of major polarization for parties. When this occurs, the natural reaction of parents is to advocate for my rights as a parent, my time with the children, my qualifications as a parent.

There isn't necessarily anything wrong with this up to a point, but advocacy for parents needs to be put in proper context. What is the proper context in child custody cases?

Quite simply, it is the children, and not the parents. In child custody cases, the overriding concern of the court system is to ensure that the custody arrangement is in the best interests of the children.

More men being awarded child support

Gone are the days where fathers in Minnesota are automatically court ordered to pay child support for their children. Today, more dads are being awarded child support from women. As more mothers continue to take over the role of primary breadwinner for their families, the child support standards that have long applied to men are now being applied to them.

Child support requests are on the rise from men who earn less than their children’s mothers. According to Time, 40 percent of households are led by women who out-earn men. Celebrities are no exception to this trend. For example, Halle Berry was recently ordered to pay an undisclosed amount of money for tuition expenses and more than $200,000 a year in child support to her daughter’s father.

What are the consequences of unpaid child support?

When families in Minnesota go through the divorce process, the non-custodial parent is often obligated to offer financial assistance in the form of child support. In the event that you are ordered to provide child support, you may be wondering what the penalties are for delinquent payments. To this end, there are a number of serious ramifications that can result, including the possibility of jail time.

The Minnesota House of Representatives lists a number of potential outcomes should you fail to keep current on your payments. For instance, if you repeatedly neglect to remit payments and other methods of enforcement have failed to afford the desired results, any licenses you hold related to hunting and fishing can be suspended. Your driver’s license and vehicle may also be in jeopardy once your unpaid support amount reaches a certain limit (i.e. three times the amount you are required to pay per month). In this case, any vehicles in your possession valued greater than $2,000 will be subject to a lien and a revocation of your license may occur.

A parenting plan that is in the best interests of your child

Child custody has changed since the days of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver. The '50s ideal of a stay-at-home wife with a husband who was the breadwinner are long gone. Sometimes the law, in the form of the legislature and the courts, are slow to adapt to these changes.

In Minnesota, there have been amendments to the family law statutes that have changed some of the elements used to decide child custody. While the state has not adopted a presumption of shared custody, the likelihood of a father obtaining shared custody and in some cases, perhaps even primary custody, is much greater today than ever before.

Bill that could alter MN alimony law passes committee

Alimony is a contentious topic. Whether you have been ordered to pay spousal maintenance or are the recipient, the subject tends to inspire strong opinions. Alimony, as it is still commonly referred, is used to provide assistance to a spouse who earned less, or in some cases, no income during the marriage. It is designed to allow them to retain a reasonable standard of living and for some, to reenter the workforce.

Minnesota calls alimony "spousal maintenance" and the statutes divide the maintenance into three types. They is temporary, short-term and long-term. The type ordered will depend on various factors, such as the current employment and income of each spouse, the education and skill set of the receiving spouse and the length of the marriage.

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