News on Spousal Maintenance and Child Support Arrears

A recent article in the Bench and Bar reminds Minnesota family law attorneys that there are several ways to collect child support and spousal maintenance awards.  The article suggests that we not overlook something called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).  This is an order that divides a party’s retirement benefits.  In other words, if you are a parent that is owed substantial arrears because your ex-spouse or ex-partner is not paying court ordered support, your family law attorney can move the court for a QDRO which will take an immediate lump sum from a retirement account, rather than waiting for many years for the arrears to be repaid by automatic income withholding.

This method of arrears collection avoids the lengthy process of contempt where there are usually at least three costly hearings before the party owing the arrears feels any consequences.  It also avoids the trap of license suspension.  One quick solution that the county often takes when trying to collect arrears is to cancel the driver’s or professional license of the party that is not paying.  The difficulty with this is that it often impedes or prevents that person from working, which just compounds the problem of nonpayment.

If you are owed significant arrears from a court ordered child support or spousal maintenance award and your ex-spouse or ex-partner has a retirement account, ask your family law attorney about using a QDRO to collect what is owed to you.

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 Minnesota law firm today.)

The Dangers of Facebook in Child Custody Battles

Facebook has completely changed the way we share information, in both positive and negative ways.  It has allowed people to stay connected with old friends, but it has also allowed others to obtain information about us that we didn’t intend.  One area in which we are seeing the potential negative side effects of social media involves child custody.

How Facebook is used in Child Custody Battles

Believe it or not, Facebook has become a big source of information for litigators in child custody battles – even more than emails and text messages.  In a story reported by WTSP, one Tampa Bay, FL attorney reported that 90% of recent family law cases involved some social media activity.  The reason for this is that what you post online, or what others post about you, is documented evidence of your offline behavior, and can be used in court.  Often times this involves questionable photos, comments or other behavior that questions whether or not someone is a suitable parent.

Use Social Media with Caution

Everyone has done something embarrassing in his or her life, and the addition of Facebook has made many of these moments even more memorable.   But Facebook can be used to highlight the positive moments in your life as well.  Here a few tips on how to use Facebook responsibly:

  • Always remember that Facebook is public information.
  • Only post what you wouldn’t mind everyone in the world to see.
  • Never post something in the heat of an argument.
  • Don’t post anything that could offend others, or could be misunderstood.
  • Share only positive information.

At the law firm of Wolf, Rohr, Gemberling and Allen, P.A. we are here to represent your best interests.  For more information on how your needs will be represented, contact our 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 .

Parenting Styles Part II: How to Incorporate Positive Parenting Techniques

As indicated in the previous post, utilizing a Positive parenting style is integral in helping your children build more self-confidence, increase social skills, and perform better in school. If you realized you were using one of the other parenting styles and want to know how to transition into a Positive Parenting style below are some ideas. If you are not doing these, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate and incorporate some, if not all, of these tactics. Continue reading “Parenting Styles Part II: How to Incorporate Positive Parenting Techniques”

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.