Financial Matters In Divorce

Sometimes when facing divorce, once the parties figure out custody and parenting time issues, the remaining issues seem to take care of themselves.

However, some parties have a number of complex and difficult financial issues, like large debts, a variety of assets, or business ownership interests.  Still others have accumulated unique assets like original artworks, antiques, or valuable collectibles.  When financial issues can’t be decided by the parties, where do they turn?

For help in deciding complex and difficult financial issues, one option is a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE).

A FENE is held with an evaluator, someone who is a highly-skilled attorney or accountant with an extensive working knowledge of property issues addressed within Minnesota family law.  These evaluators have generally worked with the courts long enough to have a very good feel for how a judge is likely to decide regarding your property issues.  While your evaluator is not able to predict exactly how the judge will decide in your particular case, he or she can assist you in determining what property is marital or non-marital, give you creative options for handling various pay-outs such as spousal maintenance or the division of a 401k, and even keep you grounded when the stress of the divorce has you spending attorney’s fees to insist upon relatively worthless and easily-replaced items.

If your family law matter involves a divorce and you’re concerned about the division of assets or other financial issues, you need representation to guide you through the process.


How to Divide Property in a Divorce?

A question often posed of divorce lawyers in Minnesota is “How do we divide the property?”  Most property which a husband and wife accumulate during their marriage is considered marital property and, thus, needs to be divided in a divorce decree.  However, some property is considered non-marital, meaning it belongs to one spouse but not the other.

Property can be non-marital even if there wasn’t a prenuptial agreement.  This could be property which one spouse brought into the marriage.  Typical examples of this are:

1)      A house one party purchased prior to the marriage or

2)      A retirement account started prior to the marriage.

Often these types of assets have both marital and non-marital components.  Many times house payments or contributions to the 401k were not just made prior to the marriage but were also made during the marriage.  Therefore, Minnesota family lawyers need to establish the value of these assets at the time of the marriage and the value of the assets now.  Only the marital portion needs to be divided.

Non-marital property could also be asset which was gifted to or inherited by one spouse.  As long as this inheritance was not co-mingled with marital funds (an example of co-mingling would be if a $10,000 gift from Aunt Margaret to husband was put into the joint checking account and used to pay the family bills), it will retain its non-marital status.  However, whenever one party asserts that an asset is non-marital, it is the burden of that party to provide evidence that the property is, in fact, non-marital.  This means tracing where the asset came from and showing everything that has happened to it since.  Your family law attorney can help you gather the information you need to do this.

If you have questions specific to your case, please contact us for a family law consultation.

Child Support Calculator – What is the Cost of Child Support?

The following child support calculator is based off of the guidelines set forth by the Minnesota Child Support statute, effective January, 2007.  The calculator does not necessarily reflect a court ordered liability, but is intended as an informational resource.

Information that you will need to obtain to use this calculator includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Each individual’s gross monthly income
  • The number of children present in each parent’s home
  • Existing spousal maintenance orders (if applicable)
  • The monthly cost of child care, health and dental coverage
  • The amount of court ordered parenting time
  • The amount each parent is currently paying in child support, for another child (if applicable)

Determining child support responsibilities can be a challenging assignment for any party, which is why we recommend hiring an experienced family law attorney to facilitate in these matters.  The attorneys at Wolf, Rohr, Gemberling and Allen, P.A. can advise you as to whether a deviation from the guidelines may be appropriate in your case.  For more information regarding child support, visit our Child Support FAQs page, or contact our MN Famil Law Firm today.)

When to Consider a Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements are not an easy topic to discuss with a future spouse; however it’s important not to forget that marriage also constitutes a legal contract.  In the unfortunate event of a divorce, it will potentially be up to  a judge, who doesn’t know you or your family, to decide how shared assets and debt are divided.  In this blog post we have highlighted several things to consider when deciding whether or not a prenuptial agreement is the right decision.

  • Income Differences – A substantial difference in income between the two parties is often a common reason for considering a premarital agreement.
  • Property Ownership – Property owned by a spouse prior to marriage could become jointly owned through marriage if not properly protected in a Prenuptial Agreement.
  • Children from A Prior Marriage – There may be children from a prior marriage that need to be financially taken care of in the future.
  • Financial Debt – Debt owed prior to the marriage by one party can become a shared responsibility through marriage.  If there is a substantial amount of debt by one spouse, then it may be a good decision to address this issue before marriage.

At Butler & Allen, P.A. we have experience helping families plan for their future financial security.  For more information about how we can help your family too, contact our MN Family Law Firm today.

How to Share Parenting Time After a Divorce

Deciding how you will share your child’s time between parents is one of the first things most parents think about after a divorce is contemplated. It seems like a simple enough question but there really is a lot to consider. Start by considering your child’s needs and use that to help guide your decisions. Next review the questions below with the other parent to help you better plan  your parenting time schedule.

  • Where will your child live and go to school?
  • Is this the home he/she will continue to have as her primary residence?
  • What is the time breakdown for your child and each parent?
  • What schedule works best for your child?
  • What schedule works best for each parent?
  • Where will each parent live/What if the other parent lives in a different geographical location?
  • Who will be providing the transportation?
  • Where will your child spend vacations, holidays, and special events?
  • What holidays will your child celebrate?
  • Do you want your child to participate in certain cultural events?
  • How will your child’s time off from school be spent?
  • In what way and how far in advance will you communicate with the other parent about special events or vacations?
  • Who will be the physician?

There is a lot to consider when deciding how to allocate time between parents. But, if you discuss these items in advance, and have a plan going in, it could save you a huge headache down the road.

This divorce and parenting legal advice was brought to you by our MN Family Law Lawyers .

Minnesota Families of Divorce: Education Requirements

The Minnesota State Legislature requires that all parents filing for divorce attend an educational program. The Hennepin County District Court requires that children of a divorce attend an educational program, as well.

Educational programs are required because parents have found them helpful to understand the legal system and their responsibilities. If you don’t attend the classes, a judge may refuse to schedule a hearing or grant your divorce. (However, if the children in the marriage for which you’re filing for divorce weren’t born to or adopted by both parties, you do not need to attend classes.)

You should finish these educational programs as soon as possible after you file for divorce. Your children should attend their program within 60 days of you filing for divorce. You must attend the programs before your divorce is final.

Your educational program will be determined based on the type of agreement you’ve reached within your divorce and child custody proceedings. Continue reading “Minnesota Families of Divorce: Education Requirements”

Custody in Minnesota: What does it mean?

Outside of the legal profession, custody is simple. After a divorce, who takes care of your children?

Within this simple question, though, other details come up.  Where will your children live? Who will make decisions about raising them?

There are two different kinds of custody and two different ways each can be awarded to a parent by the court.

Below are the ways the Minnesota Statute defines custody and our practical definitions:

Legal custody

  • Statutory definition: “Legal custody means the right to determine the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.”
  • Practical definition: When you have sole legal custody, you alone make the major decisions about raising your child. When you have joint legal custody both you and your child’s other parent share in making major decisions about raising your child.

Physical custody and residence

  • Statutory definition: “Physical custody and residence means the routine daily care and control and the residence of the child.”
  • Practical definition: When you have sole physical custody your child resides mainly with you.  When you share joint physical custody, your child usually spends substantial time in both your home and your child’s other parent’s home.

Custody determination

  • Statute definition: “Custody determination means a court decision and court orders and instructions providing for the custody of a child, including parenting time, but does not include a decision relating to child support or any other monetary obligation of any person.”
  • Practical definition:  A custody determination sets forth the legal and physical custody arrangements for you child as defined above.  These orders may include, or may not include, financial responsibilities for each parent, as well.

Finding a Divorce Lawyer

Coping with a divorce is a difficult, emotional process, and the complicated forms and paperwork involved as you begin your divorce proceedings don’t make things any easier. During this challenging time, it’s important to find a lawyer that will not only guide you through the facts of your case but one that will also put you at ease. Working with a lawyer that isn’t right for you, whether it is because of their experience or their philosophy, can have a lasting detrimental impact.

But with everything going on in your life and all the information out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. While choosing a divorce lawyer is a personal decision that’s unique to you and your situation, here are some tips to help you start sorting everything out.

Start Searching

Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds, but starting a conversation with a variety of divorce lawyers is the only way to begin.

  • Start searching with your local bar association or among friends.
  • Ask for detailed recommendations, considering lawyers’ strengths, weaknesses, and areas of expertise.

Set Up Meetings

Once you determine some prospects for your divorce lawyer, meet with a few of your top options. Meeting in person will help you determine if your prospects’ personalities match what you’re looking for in a divorce lawyer.

Prepare Yourself

Taking the first steps to set up meetings is important, but the preparation you undergo for these meetings is also essential. Think about concerns you have and your main objectives in your divorce case, including property rights, custody, visitation, and alimony/spousal maintenance. Consider asking the lawyers:

  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • What are your areas of practice? How many of your cases are divorce cases?
  • Are you familiar with divorce proceedings in my state and county?
  • How long will my divorce case take?
  • How much will your services cost?
  • How can I keep these costs down?

Evaluate Your Meetings

Take some time to think about your experiences after you’ve met with a few divorce lawyers. One essential factor is whether or not a lawyer made you feel comfortable in general.

  • Did the lawyer answer your questions in a way that you could understand?
  • Did they ask you appropriate and thoughtful questions about your case?
  • Did their attitude toward your case match your own?

Hire Your Lawyer

After careful evaluation of your meetings, you’ll be ready to make a decision.

  • Before you sign the agreements, carefully review the fees and fee structures.
  • In addition to simply filling out the paperwork to get started, don’t forget to set some expectations for your case. Confirm that your lawyer knows what final outcomes are important to you.
  • Finally, set up guidelines for communication, determining how often you will communicate with your lawyer and through what methods (phone, email, in person).

Finding a divorce lawyer and beginning your divorce proceedings can be an intimidating process, but in the end, finding the right lawyer for you will make a positive difference in your divorce case and in your life.