Five Ways to Break a Minnesota Prenup

Premarital agreement rules are still rather intricate in Minnesota, largely because lawmakers have still not adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreements Act. For most of its history, the Gopher State has never been a follow-the-crowd jurisdiction. If Minnesota is not the first state to make a move, there is little support for change. That’s probably the main reason marijuana is still mostly illegal in Minnesota.

However, there is a strong presumption in Minnesota family law in favor of out-of-court settlements. If the parties resolve issues their issues in advance, that’s even better. So, to break a premarital agreement, a Buffalo divorce lawyer typically uses one of the following tried-and-true approaches.

Unrecorded Agreement

Because they concern property matters, premarital agreements must be recorded in the county deed records. This seemingly minor technicality has brought down more prenuptial agreements than you may think.

Many people think the matter is finished once both parties sign on the dotted line, so they never record the instrument. Other times, the couple moves from one county to another one, and their premarital agreement does not move with them.

There are some practical considerations as well. To overcome this objection, the other spouse simply needs to record the instrument. But that’s not as easy as it seems. No one wants to spend several hours digging through old records and recording documents in courthouses. And, the more hurdles that runners must jump over, the less energy they have for the final sprint to the finish line.

Furthermore, failure to record says something about the other attorney. When clients want to challenge premarital agreements, Buffalo divorce lawyers should check the deed records to make sure the agreement is there. If they do not do so, that usually means they don’t have much family law experience and/or they overlook details. Knowledge of an opponent’s weaknesses often comes in handy.

No Separate Counsel

Minnesota State Bar rules make it very clear that one lawyer cannot represent both a husband and a wife in any divorce-related proceeding. But, like failure to record, the lack of separate counsel requirement often has a profound effect.

The key is that both husband and wife must have separate counsel. If Husband generously agrees to pay Wife’s legal bills or graciously refers Wife to a certain attorney, Wife arguably did not have separate counsel. And, unlike recording, lack of separate counsel cannot be undone. If the Buffalo divorce lawyer was not 100 percent independent, the premarital agreement may be hopelessly flawed.

Lack of Full Disclosure

Premarital agreements are only valid in Minnesota if both spouses put all their cards on the table. If Wife does not disclose a separate bank account, even though it’s nonmarital property and technically not part of the premarital agreement, Husband could successfully overturn the agreement.

There may be a corollary here. Some courts impose an additional requirement. If the information was available elsewhere, and the challenging spouse did not diligently look for it, the judge may overlook the lack of disclosure. This issue normally only comes up when both the spouses were business CEOs or otherwise on equal education and vocational footing.


There is almost always some pressure to sign a premarital agreement. Emotional bribery and cajoling (e.g. “If you really love me you’ll sign”) do not make a prenup involuntary. Even if one spouse issues a “sign or else” ultimatum, the agreement is probably not involuntary.

However, there may be some additional circumstances. If Husband springs the prenup on Wife at the last moment, especially if the ceremony is a lavish destination wedding, the pressure to sign could be too much. More than likely, this unfortunate Wife did not have separate counsel either. So, these arguments sometimes overlap.


Sometimes, the proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes. Blatantly one-sided contracts, including premarital agreements, are usually unenforceable.

There are some important points here. First, there is a difference between uneven and unconscionable. A 60-40 split is uneven but not unconscionable, and the same could be said for a 70-30 or even 80-20 split. Only a division like “I get the assets and you get the debts” is clearly unconscionable.

Second, the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. Buyer’s remorse is not enough to overturn a premarital agreement. Stock divisions often fall into this category. Company ownership could be worthless today and extremely valuable tomorrow (e.g. Amazon stock in 1994).

Work with a Tenacious Attorney

Premarital agreements usually stand up in court, but they are not ironclad. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

A Hutchinson Divorce Lawyer Explains MN Alimony Rules

Spousal support is probably the most controversial divorce issue. The financial aspect is only part of the story. What makes these issues so difficult is that people on both sides have extremely strong feelings. So, it’s often difficult even for experienced Hutchinson divorce lawyers to resolve these disputes.

At the heart of it all, there is a dispute over the nature of spousal support. Should it be a way to redistribute income and equalize the standard of living between the divorced spouses, or should it be a way to help the obligee spouse become economically self-sufficient?

Minnesota law toes the line between these two philosophies. The judge may award alimony if one spouse has an economic need or one spouse lacks sufficient income and property to approximate the standard of living during the marriage.

To flesh out these principles, Hutchinson divorce lawyers use an ongoing process that goes through several stages.

Determining Income and Assets

Typically, divorce is a slow fade. The parties anticipate a marriage dissolution long before either the husband or wife retains a Hutchinson divorce attorney. So, if one spouse (usually the husband) wants to conceal income or assets from the other spouse (usually the wife), there is plenty of opportunity to do so.

If you suspect your husband may be taking such action, perhaps because of a conversation you had, there are some red flags to look for, including:

  • Mail with unfamiliar corporate or business addresses,
  • Sudden drops in account balances,
  • Bank and other e-mail alerts that stop coming, and
  • Changes in take-home pay.

That last bullet is probably the most common way to hide money. Mike could voluntarily increase his tax withholding or 401(k) contributions, claim he cannot afford to pay substantial alimony, and then get the money back later.

The Mikes of the world think they can get away with it, but there is an amended W-2, payroll deduction authorization, or other smoking gun somewhere. A diligent Hutchinson divorce lawyer knows how to find these things. They usually turn up during the discovery period.

If you see any of this evidence, do not confront your spouse. He will just deny it and go underground. If that happens, it will be harder for a Hutchinson divorce lawyer to find the aforementioned smoking gun.

Determining the Amount and Duration of Payments

In some states, such as neighboring Illinois, spousal support amount is like child support amount. There is a mathematical formula in the law. But McLeod County family law judges use a subjective approach that takes a number of factors into account, including:

  • Requesting spouse’s economic need,
  • Duration of the marriage,
  • Relative age, health, education, and employment background of each party,
  • Standard of living during the marriage,
  • Obligor spouse’s ability to pay, and
  • The “homemaker factor.”

Most of these factors are self-explanatory, but that last bullet needs some further explanation. Many spouses sacrifice career advancement to become a caregiver. That could be quitting a job and becoming a stay-at-home parent or turning down a promotion because it would mean long hours at work. So, this factor could be very significant or almost meaningless.

These same factors often apply to the duration of alimony payments. Largely depending on the requesting spouse’s economic need, a judge may order one of the following:

  • Temporary Alimony: When the marriage formally breaks up, some spouses need help with Hutchinson divorce lawyer fees, relocation expenses, daycare deposits, and other such costs. Temporary alimony gives the spouse the money needed to meet these expenses. This kind of alimony automatically terminates when the judge signs the decree.
  • Short-Term Alimony: The most common type of spousal support gives people the time and resources they need to finish a degree or accept a low-paying job and get back into the workforce. Both the amount and duration of payments are subjective and subject to modification, as outlined below.
  • Long-Term Alimony: The rarest type of spousal support is only available if the marriage lasted at least ten years. Furthermore, the requesting spouse must be unable to obtain economic self-sufficiency or have custody of a minor disabled child.

Typically, the parties settle alimony and other issues out of court. This approach decreases legal fees, ends the matter more quickly, and gives the parties more control over the outcome.

How Do Hutchinson Divorce Lawyers Modify Alimony Orders?

Circumstances change for both obligors and obligees. If the change is material and substantial, a motion to modify the amount and/or duration of payments may be successful.

Financial-based modifications are often straightforward. As a rule of thumb, if the obligor’s income changed by more than 10 percent, that’s usually a material and substantial change. The change must also be involuntary. Obligors cannot voluntarily leave high-paying jobs to avoid paying alimony.

Lifestyle-based modifications are sometimes tricky, and remarriage modifications are a good example. If the obligor or obligee begins a long-term, supportive relationship with another person, a McLeod County family law judge could alter the amount or duration of payments. This grounds for modification is somewhat vague, so your Hutchinson divorce lawyer must be very assertive.

Judges apply the same factors listed above when they reset the amount and duration of payments. Furthermore, like most divorces, most modifications settle out of court.

Connect with Dedicated Attorneys

From start to finish, alimony is a complex matter. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.



How Do Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers Win Dog Bite Cases?

A few dog bites are just embarrassing. But for the most part, nothing else causes the kinds of physical and emotional injuries than an animal attack can cause.

Physically, dog bite injuries are a lot like car crash injuries. Both are incredibly varied. Animal knockdowns often cause broken bones and head injuries, especially if the victim is very young or very old. But the knockdown is just the beginning. When dogs bite, their jaws often create both deep puncture wounds and severe lacerations. Their claws often do the same thing.

All that physical trauma creates psychological trauma. Many dog bite victims must endure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms, such as flashbacks and heightened awareness, for months or years following the attack.

Due to the serious nature of these injuries, Brainerd personal injury lawyers have several procedural options. Dog bite victims are in the driver’s seat. In many cases, victim/plaintiffs need little evidence to collect money for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.

Minnesota’s Strict Liability Law

According to Section 347.22, animal owners are “liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained” if their dogs attack people. Victim/plaintiffs need not prove fault or negligence. They just need to prove cause.

Typically, homeowners’ insurance policies encompass unintentional injuries to third parties, such as dog bites. That’s an important point, because many homeowners are essentially judgment-proof.

As a matter of law, provocation is the only defense to strict liability claims. This doctrine is very limited. In the everyday world, “provocation” could mean sudden moves, teasing, or pretty much anything else that the targeted person perceives as threatening or hostile. But to a Brainerd personal injury lawyer, “provocation” essentially means physical torture. Anything less is insufficient, from a legal standpoint.

However, there is a downside to the strict liability law. Unless the dog was at the home and/or under the owner’s direct control, most homeowners’ insurance companies will deny coverage. Fortunately, Minnesota courts have made it clear that the strict liability law is not the exclusive remedy in these situations.


This Latin word means “knowledge.” Scienter claims are an offshoot of the common law one-bite rule. Before the advent of strict liability laws like Section 347.22, Brainerd personal injury lawyers had to prove that the owner or custodian knew the animal was dangerous. Evidence of knowledge is usually either:

  • Prior attacks against animals or people, or
  • Aggressive action, such as barking or lunging, immediately before the attack.

Additionally, victim/plaintiffs must generally establish actual knowledge of dangerous propensities. Constructive knowledge, or should have known, is usually not enough. And, the viciousness must have been unprovoked. Only sudden attacks or out-of-the-blue aggressive growling put owners on notice that their animals are potentially dangerous.

So, scienter claims are much harder to establish in court than strict liability claims. But, the additional evidence often translates to bigger damages. In the minds of many Crow Wing County jurors, owners who know their dogs are dangerous yet do nothing to protect people are far worse than owners whose dogs literally go off the chain for a moment or two.

If the dog was with a temporary custodian, such as a veterinarian or doggie daycare, scienter is usually the way to go, even though the strict liability law may be applicable.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Negligence

Sometimes, the dog owner is a renter or a person with no liability insurance. In other cases, the tortfeasor (negligent actor) might be a teacher who allows her students to play with a strange dog.

These situations often involve a lack of ordinary care, and that means a negligence claim may be successful. Typically, people have a duty of reasonable care. If they breach that duty, and that breach substantially causes damages, the tortfeasor may be legally responsible.

Negligence also often means third-party liability. Vicarious liability gives victims an additional source of compensation. For example, employers, like a school district, are generally responsible for the negligent acts of their employees, such as schoolteachers. And, property owners are generally responsible for the unintentional injuries which occur on their property, assuming they knew about the danger.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Dog bite victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

I Got Arrested for a Misdemeanor…What’s Next?

Many people think that a misdemeanor is not much more than an expensive traffic ticket. But a misdemeanor means up to a year in jail, and any time behind bars can cause a brain injury. As soon as the cell doors close, stress hormone production increases by about 30 percent. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones causes a number of ill effects. Just the possibility of confinement has similar effects, but they are not nearly as drastic.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel. But some Wright County judges only appoint Buffalo criminal defense lawyers for people who are already in jail. Even if a court-appointed lawyer or a public defender, it’s usually best to hire your own Buffalo criminal defense lawyer. This move has nothing to do with competence. Public assistance attorneys are usually at the top of the profession. It’s a matter of accessibility, the relationship you have with your lawyer, and some other intangible items.

Procedural Matters in Misdemeanors

Procedurally, misdemeanors are basically the same as felonies. Police officers must follow the same rules. Procedural defenses are usually quite effective in all criminal cases. If a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer establishes a prior procedural defect, the judge usually has no choice but to throw the case out of court. No one can go back in time and fix mistakes that have already happened. Generally, these defenses involve an issue with the search and seizure.

The Fourth Amendment contains the search warrant requirement. In most cases, these warrants rely heavily on informer’s tips. To evaluate this information, Wright County judges look at a number of factors, including:

  • Specificity: A general tip like “there’s a drug house on the corner of Fifth and Main” might be enough for a surveillance warrant, but it’s nowhere near enough for a search warrant. A street address is better, but still legally shaky. Only a warrant that designates both the type of drug and the location in the house easily passes muster.
  • Source: This analysis is similar. Anonymous tips are almost inherently unreliable. If the tipster doesn’t vouch for the information, why should a judge accept it as true? Police officer tips, like an APB, are almost always reliable. Everything else is somewhere in the middle.
  • Informer’s Track Record: This factor is closely related to the “source” factor. If the informer provided good information before, the new information is probably at least good enough for probable cause. A related factor is how much money or favorable treatment the informer receives. Police snitches rarely work for free.

Prosecutors cannot work backward. They cannot argue that since the cops found drugs, the tip must have been reliable. Each tip stands or falls on its own merits.

Other cases hinge on search warrant exceptions. If there were some extraordinary circumstances, officers do not need to stop what they are doing and obtain warrants. Consent is probably the most common search warrant exception. If the vehicle or other property owner says police can “have a look around,” they have free reign to look wherever they want.

The plain view exception comes up quite a bit as well. If officers pull over vehicles, they can seize any contraband they find in plain view. Officers must be legally at that place at that time, and they cannot use artificial vision aids, like binoculars or heat sensors, to bring objects into plain view.

How a Buffalo Criminal Defense Lawyer Prepares for Trial

With procedural matters out of the way, a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer can focus on the trial. Lack of evidence is usually the most effective defense, followed closely by an affirmative defense.

Prosecutors must prove every element of a misdemeanor beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the highest standard in Minnesota law. In the Gopher State, this phrase has no set definition. But it generally means proof of such an overwhelming nature that it overcomes the presumption of innocence and leaves no room for “but waits” or “what ifs.”

A Buffalo criminal defense attorney can challenge the state’s proof by cross-examining witnesses, objecting to evidence, and making compelling arguments to the judge and jury. So, in these cases, the defendant does not have to testify.

On the other hand, if the defendant has an affirmative defense, like self-defense, the defendant has the burden of proof, albeit at a lower level than reasonable doubt. Therefore, in these situations, the defendant frequently must testify. That’s a very risky legal strategy, but it often pays off.

Resolving a Wright County Misdemeanor

Many of these cases do not go to trial at all. In fact, plea bargains resolve over 90 percent of the misdemeanors in Wright County. These out-of-court settlements usually involve a lesser sentence and/or reduced charges. For example, a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer might engineer a plea to simple battery as opposed to a trial on a domestic battery charge. Simple battery, while still a misdemeanor, does not have as many collateral consequences as domestic battery.

If the defendant has a defense, as outlined above, a favorable plea is more likely. In these cases, prosecutors are even less willing to roll the dice at trial.

Connect with Savvy Attorneys

Misdemeanor charges are serious, but they are not the end of the world. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Informal and Formal Felony Expunctions in MN

Many times, a permanent criminal record is the worst outcome in a criminal case. Even in a felony, probation and other punishments are soon forgotten. But criminal records never go away. Decades later, they affect job searches, professional career choices, family law proceedings, and other important matters.

Fortunately, in 2015, the landscape changed dramatically. Hutchinson felony lawyers now have many more opportunities to erase a criminal past, so more people can truly move on with their lives.

Under this new law, many former felons can have their records sealed between two and five years after they complete their sentences. The law also had a trickle-down effect which many people did not anticipate at the time. Prosecutors are more willing to recommend diversion and deferred sentences, and judges are now more willing to grant full-fledged expunction.

The bottom line is that if you are worried about the effects of a criminal record, or you want to do something about a criminal past, you now have more options than ever before.

Pretrial Diversion

Typically, this prosecution alternative is only available in misdemeanors. But Hutchinson felony lawyers may also be able to arrange for pretrial diversion in felony drug possession cases, especially if these cases are in designated drug courts. Prosecutors in these courts often have a better understanding of the nature of these offenses.

Generally, status is never a defense to conduct. Alcoholism is not a defense to DUI, and drug addiction is not a defense to drug possession. However, status is often a mitigating circumstance when it comes to punishment. That’s especially the case if the defendant has a substance abuse problem and is willing to get help.

Situations like this one are tailor-made for pretrial diversion. If the defendant completes some program requirements, like submitting to drug treatment, prosecutors normally dismiss the charges. The arrest record remains, but as outlined below, there are some ways to address that issue.

Stay of Adjudication

If pretrial diversion is not an option, a stay of adjudication is probably on the table. A stay of adjudication means that the McLeod County judge accepts a plea of guilty or no contest, but s/he does not enter a finding of guilt. Instead, the judge defers that part of the plea until after the defendant completes probation. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the judge dismisses the case.

Sometimes, the judge will overlook a technical violation here and there, such as a failure to change address or a missed supervisory appointment. But for the most part, the probation record must be spotless. If there is any infraction, the judge may proceed to adjudication at that point, and the deal is off.

Additionally, at the probation violation hearing, the judge may generally sentence the defendant to anything up to the maximum prison sentence, and there is little or nothing that a Hutchinson felony lawyer can do to prevent that outcome.

Those two things are the major stay of adjudication cons. But on the other side, there are some very significant pros. Above all, the defendant could emerge from this mess without a criminal conviction. True, the arrest record remains. But most employers, landlords, and other people who perform background checks only care about convictions. Additionally, if the prior arrest comes up, an explanation like “I hired a Hutchinson felony lawyer and the lawyer took care of it” usually puts any doubts to bed.

Petition for Expungement

A few cases, like sex crimes and domestic violence crimes, are never expungable. But under the expanded expungement law, a long list of felonies are eligible for full record sealing. That includes both conviction and arrest records.

However, expungement is not automatic, even if the defendant meets the minimum qualifications. The judge can take a number of factors into account before making a decision, including:

  • Severity of the offense,
  • Any steps toward rehabilitation (e.g. overcoming a substance abuse issue),
  • Reason for the expungement request,
  • Community service and other involvement,
  • Victim impact,
  • Whether the victim was a minor, and
  • Any mitigating circumstances.

That last bullet is particularly important. It can make or break your expunction petition. A Hutchinson felony lawyer should not re-litigate the case, but your attorney should re-emphasize those points from the trial which favor reduced punishment.

Reach Out to Experienced Attorneys

A criminal conviction does not need to stain your record forever. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson felony lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.


Understanding Crow Wing County Wrongful Death Claims

Car crashes, falls, and other accidents almost always cause visible and invisible injuries. The visible injuries are usually easier to deal with than the invisible ones. Broken bones, internal injuries, and other such wounds usually heal in a few months, at least to a large extent. But emotional wounds often linger for decades or even longer.

An attorney cannot go back in time and prevent an accident, especially if that accident was someone else’s fault. However, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer can fight for the financial compensation a family deserves. These resources help them carry on. Furthermore, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer can also obtain justice and a sense of closure.

What Causes Wrongful Death?

All kinds of accidents often cause serious injuries. First responders at the scene and doctors at the hospital are often able to save victims, but there is only so much they can do. Some of the leading causes of wrongful death in Minnesota are:

  • Poisonings: Several years ago, unintentional poisonings (usually drug overdoses) overtook motor vehicle collisions and became the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. These deaths include prescription drug-induced incidents as well as heroin overdoses. That illegal drug is usually the next step up for opioid addicts.
  • Motor Vehicle Crashes: Most vehicles are much more crash-resistant today than they were in the 1990s. But prompt medical attention is essential. Many times, especially in rural areas like Brainerd, emergency responders simply cannot get to the scene quickly enough.
  • Falls: These fatal incidents are especially common among victims over 65. Many of these falls occur in area nursing homes. Falls from a height, particularly among construction workers, are a serious problem as well.
  • Suffocations: Smoke inhalation causes most suffocation-related deaths. Many times, these fires are not “accidental.” Sometimes people intentionally cause these fires, and other times, there are not enough working smoke detectors in a building or dwelling.
  • Drownings: Unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death, and not just injury-related death, among children under 4. Especially in situations like these, the brain can only survive without oxygen for a few minutes.

Substantial compensation is usually available in situations like these, as outlined below. A Brainerd personal injury lawyer can review your situation and explain your legal options.

Significantly, many of these types of wrongful death involve third-party liability. For example, in a suffocation death, a landlord might not have provided sufficient safety equipment for tenants. Vicarious liability is very important in wrongful death cases, because the individual tortfeasor (negligent actor) may not have sufficient insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.

Your Claim for Damages

There is an old saying among Brainerd personal injury lawyers that wherever there is a wrong, there is a remedy. That saying is not always accurate, but it is true in this context. Several different approaches might be available, and poisoning deaths are a good illustration. Different responsible parties may trigger different theories of liability:

  • Manufacturer and Defective Product: Opioid manufacturers already face over 1,000 lawsuits which allege that they deceptively marketed pain pills and/or the manufacturers knew these pills were dangerous. Typically, manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries that their defective products cause.
  • Opioid Distributors and Negligence Per Se: The companies which delivered pain pills to Brainerd pharmacies are not just shipping companies. Under federal law, these firms must not put dangerous drugs in the hands of ordinary people. Arguably, that is exactly what happened. If a tortfeasor violated a safety law, and that violation substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor is responsible for damages as a matter of law.
  • Physicians and Negligence: Negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. Treating physicians who prescribe powerful opioids when something weaker would suffice arguably violate their duty of care. The same thing applies to doctors who write opioid prescriptions and do not ask questions. These claims are normally easy for Brainerd personal injury lawyers to establish in court, because the doctor-patient duty is extremely high.

Wrongful death victims may be entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages. Additional punitive damages are available if the tortfeasor behaved recklessly or intentionally disregarded a known risk. Doctors and corporations that place profits before people certainly fit that mold.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Procedural Issues

In most cases, survivors who were related to the deceased person by blood or marriage may file a wrongful death action in Minnesota. If the survivors are from out of state or otherwise unable to pursue a claim, they may ask a Crow Wing County judge to appoint a trustee. These individuals are generally entitled to pecuniary losses. Such losses include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses,
  • Medical bills related to the deceased’s final illness or injury,
  • Loss of future emotional and financial support, and
  • Their own grief and suffering.

Minnesota’s wrongful death statute is more victim-friendly than the laws in some other states. Many other jurisdictions sharply limit the compensation that wrongful death survivors may obtain.

Reach Out to Dedicated Attorneys

Wrongful death wounds cut very deeply. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

How Do Buffalo Injury Lawyers Deal with PTSD?

Combat stress is the number one cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Extreme stress, like being in a battle, destroys part of the cerebral cortex. That erosion creates a chemical imbalance in the brain which causes the symptoms listed below.

That finding, which has changed the way doctors approach PTSD, is just part of the new research into this type of brain injury. In the early 2000s, researchers discovered a link between financial stress and PTSD.

So, returning war veterans are not the only people who must deal with PTSD. Ordinary Minnesotans may experience this brain injury as well. If a lack of care caused this injury, as it often does, a Buffalo injury lawyer can obtain the compensation victims need to put their lives back together.

What Causes Injury-Related PTSD?

Typically, all unintentional injuries may cause Acute Financial Stress (AFS), which is the medical term for PTSD that’s related to money problems. Car crashes and other such injuries usually cause massive financial stress. When medical providers demand payment, the victim is usually still not able to work, so there is no money to pay these bills.

However, AFS is usually not a foreseeable result of a car crash. This type of PTSD is like a victim going to a hospital and a doctor making a medical mistake. Technically, the wreck and malpractice are related, but the connection is too indirect.

Car crash-induced PTSD, on the other hand, is a different matter. After a serious wreck, many victims endure nightmares and flashbacks. Heightened awareness and avoidance are both common as well. A speeding car is a threat instead of an annoyance, and many car crash survivors avoid the intersection or part of town where the accident occurred.

Dog bites often cause PTSD, perhaps because they are closely related to combat wounds. These injuries are especially common among child victims. Other types of unintentional injuries, such as falls, might cause PTSD as well.

PTSD Symptoms

Everyone suffers from emotional distress after an accident. Generally, this distress has physical symptoms, like tremors or nausea. Such distress is a standard component of the noneconomic damages that a Buffalo injury lawyer commonly obtains in these cases.

Prolonged or intense emotional distress, however, is not normal. So, if your emotional symptoms persist for more than a few days, or if the symptoms intensify, you may have an undiagnosed brain injury that is causing PTSD symptoms. Talk to your doctor or Buffalo injury lawyer straightaway. If the brain injury is not treated, the symptoms will get worse.

These symptoms are remarkably consistent in different victims. Roughly five hundred years ago, William Shakespeare aptly described some PTSD symptoms in this passage from Henry IV, Part 1:

O my good lord, why are you thus alone? For what offense have I this fortnight been a banished woman from my Harry’s bed? Tell me, sweet lord, what is ‘t that takes from thee thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep? Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth, and start so often when thou sit’st alone? Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks and given my treasures and my rights of thee to thick-eyed musing and curst melancholy? In thy faint slumbers, I by thee have watched, and heard thee murmur tales of iron wars.

To many PTSD victims and Buffalo injury lawyers, this passage is one of the most chilling ones in all of the Bard’s works. In speaking to her husband Hotspur, who has recently returned from a war, Lady Percy mentions isolation (why are you thus alone), unreasonable anger toward family members (a banished woman from my Harry’s bed), lack of interest in formerly pleasurable activities, sleeplessness, depression, and other common PTSD symptoms.

PTSD Treatment

Brain injuries are permanent, because dead cerebral cortex cells, and other brain cells, never regenerate. One day soon, stem cell therapy and other emerging treatments may change that outcome, but that day may still be decades away.

PTSD has no cure, but there are treatments available. In some cases, especially if there is any brain bleeding, doctors may perform surgery to relieve the pressure on the brain. But in most cases, PTSD treatment involves physical therapy.

This therapy is different. If a victim breaks an arm, a physical therapist must strengthen the arm muscles once the bone heals. But when victims break their brains, therapists must teach uninjured portions of the brain to assume the lost functions. Such an approach requires a highly-specialized therapist. Additionally, both the therapist and victim must be very patient, because progress usually comes in fits and starts.

Buffalo injury lawyers can connect victims with the therapists they need, and also obtain the compensation they need to get that therapy.

Connect with an Experienced Attorney

Injury accidents often cause PTSD. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

The Twelve New Child Custody Factors in McLeod County

Prior to 2015, Hutchinson child custody lawyers dealt with a complex array of child custody factors, especially if the divorce order include a joint custody decree with an every other weekend/every other holiday-type parenting time split. At that time, such divisions were basically the only ones that McLeod County family judges approved.

Then, after a cadre of lawyers, experts, and family advocates examined the issue, the Legislature significantly re-worked the list of child custody factors in Minnesota. The new, streamlined list is much easier for lay people to understand, and quite frankly, easier for Hutchinson child custody lawyers to understand as well.

Section 518.17 now contains the following factors to be used in parenting time determinations. There are typically two issues in these determinations. Legal custody means the right to make important decisions, such as where the children will live, where they will go to school, and so on. Physical custody is the parenting time division. Minnesota law presumes that children benefit from frequent and consistent contact with both their biological parents.

Childrens’ Regular Needs

Everyone has “physical, emotional, cultural, [and] spiritual” needs. Additionally, children rely exclusively on their caregivers to provide food, clothing, shelter, companionship, education, and other basic needs. This overall factor essentially establishes the framework for all the other listed child custody factors.

Childrens’ Special Needs

This new factor addresses the uniqueness of each child. Some children have medical, educational, emotional, and other needs over and above those of other children. Sometimes, one parent is better suited emotionally, financially, and otherwise to meet these unique needs.

Childrens’ Preference

This factor is surprisingly subjective. Generally, the law sets specific milestone ages. For example, according to Minnesota law, children under 16 are too immature to drive a car. But children who reach that age are mature enough to handle that responsibility. In terms of this factor, Hutchinson child custody lawyers can take into account both physical age and a child’s ability “to express an independent, reliable preference.”

Parents’ Fitness

Some parents have issues, such as a substance abuse problem, which prevent them from being good parents at all times. In these cases, judges often restrict access to children and also order the parent to attend some kind of therapy. If the parent overcomes the physical, mental, or other disability, a Hutchinson child custody lawyer usually files a motion to modify the parenting plan.

Parental Preference

Many parents willingly embrace the role of weekend mom or dad. So, “the willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child” is a perfectly legitimate inquiry. This factor basically expands on the previous one. Whereas fitness is usually an objective matter, preference is much more subjective.

Prior Domestic Abuse

Whether or not there is a criminal or other court record, pretty much every household in McLeod County is abusive to some extent. At one time or another, nearly everyone gets angry and says or does something they regret. Therefore, this factor involves not so much the presence or absence of domestic abuse, but the extent of that abuse. Obviously, not all anger outbursts have the same impact on the children.

Care History

In many households, the “caregiver” and “breadwinner” roles overlap, as each parent helps out in each area. But that is not always the case. In some families, each parent fills a fairly distinct role. If Mom has always been immersed in work and cared little about attending school plays, it’s hard for her to be a residential parent after a divorce. Sometimes this factor has a great deal of weight, and sometimes it does not.

Childrens’ Emotional Relationships

Divorce always changes family dynamics. So, much like the domestic abuse factor, the issue is how that change affects the children. This factor often comes up more in modification actions than in divorce actions. The Brady Bunch kids seamlessly blended with one another, but that is not always the case.

Consistency for the Children

As far as many Hutchinson child custody lawyers are concerned, this factor may be one of the most significant ones. Many judges are reluctant to allow a parent to move the children out of state, or even out of the county. Since divorce involves so much change, many people feel it’s best to limit the change as much as possible. Then again, children are very resilient and a change of scenery is sometimes best, so this coin definitely has two sides.

Parenting Time Involvement

This amorphous factor often refers to the emotional relationship between a parent and a child. Sometimes the relationship is close, and sometimes it is not. No court order can direct a child to feel an attachment toward a parent. This factor often changes over time, which is why Hutchinson child custody lawyers often rely on it in modification matters.

Intent to Co-Parent

If one parent is obstinate and stiff-necked during the divorce, many McLeod County family court judges assume that behavior will continue. Parents who refuse to acknowledge the important role of the other parent are usually not good residential parent candidates. Such an arrangement sets the stage for future conflicts.

Ability to Co-Parent

Sometimes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Some parents lack basic problem-solving skills or have a hard time controlling their anger. If this factor changes, and it often does as people mature, a motion to modify may be in order.

Team Up with a Dedicated Attorney

Attorneys and parents must balance a number of factors to come up with a sustainable parenting plan that’s in the best interests of the children. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson child custody lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After hours visits are available.

Top Three Insurance Company Defenses in Motorcycle Crash Claims

As the calendar inches toward spring, more motorcycles will be out and about in and around Brainerd. One would think that there is safety in numbers, but in this context, that’s normally not the case. There is a saying among area riders that there are only two kinds of bikers: Those who have gone down and those who will go down.

Because bikers are almost completely exposed to danger in these cases, they may be entitled to substantial compensation for their serious injuries. Because the stakes are so high, big insurance company hire high-priced lawyers to fight these claims tooth and nail. In that environment, victims need a tough Brainerd injury lawyer to level the playing field.

There is a big difference here. Top Brainerd injury lawyers repeatedly employ proven methods that get results. But insurance company lawyers keep trying the same legal loopholes, even though they hardly ever work. Albert Einstein supposedly said that “the definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting different results.” That does not mean insurance company lawyers are insane, but it does mean the approaches they use in motorcycle crash claims are often ineffective.

Last Clear Chance

This legal loophole is usually the first line of defense. If it applies, the last clear chance doctrine completely excuses negligence conduct in vehicle collision cases.

In vehicle collision claims, the last clear chance doctrine often comes up in head-on crash claims. Assume Stan drifts over the center line and hits Ollie, who is in the other lane traveling in the opposite direction. The police accident report will almost certainly blame Stan for the crash. But if Ollie could have avoided the wreck, perhaps by changing lanes, and he did not do so, he is legally responsible for the collision.

Roughly a third of motorcycle crash claims involve that same scenario. Often, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) attempts a left turn against traffic and moves directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. Many insurance company lawyers claim that the rider could have avoided the crash, perhaps by slamming on the brakes or suddenly changing lanes.

But as all good Brainerd injury lawyers know, there is a big difference between controlling a four-wheel vehicle and controlling a motorcycle. Cars and trucks can make emergency maneuvers, like sudden stops or quick lane changes. But even experienced motorcycle riders often lose control of their bikes if they attempt these things. That’s especially true if the road is wet, the pavement is uneven, or there are any other adverse environmental circumstances.

The heart of the last clear chance defense is that the victim had a reasonable and practical opportunity to avoid the crash, and not just a theoretical chance. So, in most motorcycle crash cases, the last clear chance defense does not apply.

Contributory Negligence

If the last clear chance loophole does not work, insurance company lawyers typically try the contributory negligence defense. This doctrine is probably the most commonly used defense in vehicle collision cases.

Let’s return to the Stan/Ollie example and modify the facts a bit. Assume that Stan crossed the center line as before, but also assume that Ollie was speeding. A Brainerd injury lawyer could argue that Ollie’s excessive velocity contributed significantly to the crash. If Ollie was moving slower, this argument goes, he would have had time to avoid Stan.

Theoretically, the same thing could apply in a left-turn motorcycle crash. But remember that motorcycles are harder to control than four-wheel vehicles. So, even if the rider sped or made an illegal lane change in the moments before a crash, it probably would not have mattered. The rider could do nothing to stop the wreck.

Contributory negligence is usually a fallback because Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the wreck, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages. In other words, at best, contributory negligence usually only reduces the amount of compensation the tortfeasor must pay.

Motorcycle Prejudice

If their first two defenses are unsuccessful, many insurance company lawyers get desperate. In their desperation, they appeal to the base instincts of Crow Wing County jurors. In this instance, that’s the motorcycle prejudice.

Assume Ollie, who was the victim in the Stan/Ollie crash, rode a Harley-Davidson, wore a leather jacket, and lead a motorcycle riding club. Insurance company lawyers might try to portray Ollie as a reckless thug who had little regard for fellow motorists.

Back in the heyday of the Hell’s Angels, the motorcycle prejudice usually worked pretty well. Recent violent incidents like this one reinforce that stereotype.

However, the motorcycle prejudice is not nearly as strong now as it was back in the day. Once the jury understands the facts (e.g. Harleys have loud mufflers to improve their visibility and bikers wear leather jackets for protection), they are less likely to fall under the sway of the motorcycle prejudice. Come to think of it, the same thing applies to most other kinds of prejudice as well.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Motorcycle crashes often raise complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

5 Reasons a Buffalo Divorce Lawyer Should Draft Your Prenup

No one wants or expects a flood to wash away their home or burglars to steal their valuables. Nevertheless, responsible owners still obtain flood insurance and personal property insurance. It just makes good sense to be prepared for the unwanted and the unexpected.

Similarly, no one (or at least almost no one) wants or expects to get divorced. Nevertheless, responsible spouses, especially if they have been married before, should obtain premarital agreements. Once again, it makes sense to be prepared for the unexpected.

However, when a Buffalo family law lawyer prepares a prenuptial agreement, it is much more than divorce insurance. Such an agreement places your marriage on a firmer foundation. Here are a few of the specific benefits.

Remove Money from the Equation

A recent British poll confirmed what most people already suspected. Arguments over money were the leading cause of divorce in the U.K. Significantly, most spouses who squabble with their significant other over money blamed the other spouse for these problems.

According to this same study, disagreements over money have deep roots. Fundamentally, some people are savers and some people are spenders. That’s just the way it is. But these financial leanings usually stay below the surface while a couple is dating. By the time they figure out there is a problem, one of them probably already has an appointment with a Buffalo divorce lawyer.

A premarital agreement eliminates this problem. Instead of sparring over money, the couple simply refers to the contract they signed before the marriage.

As a bonus, when a Buffalo divorce lawyer draws up the agreement, the couple reviews it is a clinical and non-emotional manner. That attitude helps prevent rash financial decisions which one, or both, spouses might regret later.

Protect Inheritance and Succession Rights

For the most part, only biological or adopted children have inheritance rights. Stepchildren generally have no rights at all in this area. Many times, the stepparent intends a different result. For example, if Jose dies suddenly, he may want his stepson to take over the business as opposed to his estranged biological daughter. That’s especially true if Jose’s stepson already has an active role in the business. If Jose dies suddenly, his partners and employees might wish to continue working with his stepson as opposed to someone they neither know nor trust.

A premarital agreement is one of the only legal documents which can override Minnesota’s antiquated intestacy laws. To cement the deal, Buffalo divorce lawyers often draw up wills, trusts, and other testamentary or executory documents which back up the premarital agreement.

Avoid a Protracted Marriage Dissolution Proceeding

Two-thirds of second marriages end in divorce, and three-fourths of third marriages end the same way. Some psychologists believe that many of these people are still on the rebound from their prior marriages. Others point out that, in many subsequent marriages, the husband and wife have no biological children. As such, these marriages lack that emotional glue.

Even if the marriage ends in divorce, that does not mean that the spouses dislike each other. A smooth divorce often preserves what little civility is left, and a premarital agreement is a good way to bring about that result. As mentioned, premarital agreements cover both emotional and financial issues.

Debt or Asset Imbalance

Sometimes, the prince marries the pauper. Premarital agreements offer protection for the prince’s assets in these and other situations. Many times, assets have an emotional value which eclipses any financial value. A retirement account is a good example. Even if it does not contain much money, it represents long-term security.

More commonly, one spouse has significant debt. Student loan and other obligations are sometimes almost financially crippling. Without a premarital agreement, the non-debtor spouse could be liable for the other spouse’s debts. Additionally, if the other spouse used marital funds to pay off the debt, there may be little or no recourse.

Part of an Overall Financial Plan

If the aforementioned insurance analogy is not enough to sell a reluctant spouse on the need for a premarital agreement, it can be part of a package deal.

Emotionally, a subsequent marriage is usually a new beginning. A couple can use this spirit to begin anew in other areas as well, including their finances. Just like a premarital agreement can also settle inheritance, succession, and other testamentary matters, it can also be the centerpiece of a financial package that includes retirement accounts, college savings plans, or other such vehicles.

Reach Out to Diligent Attorneys

Premarital agreements strengthen subsequent marriages in several different ways. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After-hours visits are available.




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