What Do Family Law Attorneys in Minnetonka Do?

Family law attorneys specialize in dealing with sensitive family issues. They handle legal issues that affect the members of the family.

A divorce or adoption of a child is a life-changing experience. It can also be emotionally-intense and stressful. A family law attorney is experienced in handling the different aspects of family law in Minnetonka.

When you hire a family law attorney, they will explain the nuances of family issues, as well as the risks, alternatives, and options in every course of action. This information can help you maintain a balanced mindset even during emotionally-charged moments.

Family law attorneys in Minnetonka practice in areas of:

  • Divorce
  • Division of property, assets, and debt
  • Child support
  • Child custody and visitation/parenting time
  • Spousal maintenance (alimony) or support
  • Modifications of custody and support
  • Paternity issues
  • Domestic abuse and harassment
  • Orders for protection and restraining orders after allegations of domestic violence

Here are a few duties of family law attorneys in Minnetonka.

Offer Assistance during a Divorce

A divorce can be emotionally distressing. Moreover, different states follow different laws to grant a divorce. A family law attorney in Minnetonka will be well-versed in the state-specific laws.

They will know that Minnesota is a no-fault state and accordingly help with critical aspects like alimony, division of assets, among others. An experienced family law attorney will also help you navigate through the complex court system. They will
support you by providing competent representation and protecting your rights.

Help with Pre-and-Post-Nuptial Agreements

A pre-nuptial agreement is created before you get married. This agreement outlines the property and assets that belong to both you and your spouse. It also specifies who will be entitled to how much of the cumulative assets in the case of a divorce.
A post-nuptial agreement details these factors after you get married. However, considerations like child custody and support aren’t included in the prenuptial agreement.

A family law attorney in Minnetonka will assist you with drafting and registering these agreements in court. Also, they will support you in case your spouse violates the terms and conditions of the agreement. Your attorney will present your side of the case in a positive light and work towards getting you your entitled share of the assets.

Ease the Process of Child Custody

Divorce proceedings may get complicated when child custody is involved. It is important to ensure that your children are not psychologically impacted. As per Family Law in Minnetonka, the following factors are considered before deciding on child custody:

  • Which parent shares a better bond with the child/children
  • Criminal or drug activity on the part of one or both parents

Often, a child custody agreement is formulated outside the court. However, in the absence of an agreement, your family law attorney gathers evidence in connection with the abovementioned factors to present in the court. Based on the evidence, the final custody verdict is provided by the court.

Help Obtain Child Support

Most states have set formulas to determine the child support amount. Minnesota child support laws 2018 brought about several changes though. However, according to Minnesota statutes, basic child support is calculated based on the combined gross income of both parents. You will need to submit relevant documentation of your earnings and income when you file the initial pleadings for child support.

In the case of a dispute in providing child support, your family law attorney ensures that the court has all the required documents to calculate the appropriate amount. They will also need information like:

  • Accurate income of the parents
  • Healthcare expenses of the children
  • Allowable deductions, if applicable

The family law attorney also investigates if any one of the spouses is trying to hide sources of income, or are underemployed or intentionally unemployed.

Support in Adoption Procedures

Family law attorneys don’t help only during a family crisis, they support special moments of joy, like adoption, as well. Family law attorneys make sure you have all the right paperwork in place. They also guide you through the necessary processes to legalize the adoption.

Check on Cases of Abuse and Neglect

If your child is being neglected by your spouse, you should seek the help of a family law attorney in Minnetonka at the earliest. They will advocate on your behalf to get your child back from your neglectful spouse.

Also, if you are facing an accusation of abuse/neglect, your family law attorney will defend you and protect your rights.
Needless to say, collaborating with experienced family law attorneys will help you manage these sensitive areas of family-related issues in a legal manner.


As legal professionals, family law attorneys are indispensable when sensitive family issues need to be dealt with. They are experienced in and should be hired for managing critical areas of child custody, child support, pre and postnuptial agreements, divorce, and more. Family law attorneys fiercely protect your best interests and fight for a favorable outcome based on the specific facts of the case.

Reach Out to Our Team of Family Law Attorneys Today!

Hiring an experienced family law attorney can change your life for the better. At Carlson & Jones, P.A, we understand how a competent family law attorney in Minnetonka helps resolve sensitive family-related issues. Call us on (855) 976-2444 or contact us online to discuss your case.

How to Find the Best Family Law Attorney Near Me in Buffalo?

Finding the right attorney, who can represent your and your family’s best interests, can feel overwhelming. If you’re trying to find a lawyer conversant with family law in Buffalo, you may constantly wonder about what makes a divorce attorney in Buffalo reliable.

A lot of people assume that family lawyers are helpful only in divorce cases. However, there is more to family law in Buffalo; and there are multiple reasons why you may need legal representation in family matters. Some of these include child custody and support, division of property, domestic violence and abuse, and paternity issues.

It is important that you make the effort to find the best family lawyer. This step will not only help you better understand family law in Buffalo but will also increase your chances of achieving positive outcomes.

Mentioned ahead are a few pointers to bear in mind when picking the best family lawyer for your case.

Start Your Search Early

Sometimes, people find themselves and/or their loved ones in challenging or potentially dangerous family situations, which can be highly distressing. If you’re in such a circumstance, you’ll want to act fast, yet prudently to find yourself the right attorney who knows family law in Buffalo inside-out.
Having the support of a certified legal professional will bring you relief as soon as you hire them. Hence, it makes perfect sense to start looking for an empathetic family law attorney, who can understand your needs, as soon as you can.

Ask for References and Check Reviews

Some of the most reliable sources for finding a good lawyer, who knows family law in Buffalo, our family, and friends who’ve had cases of their own in the past. They can speak from experience and make recommendations.
Other sources of reference include professionals such as accountants and counselors as they usually work with family lawyers, especially in divorce cases.

You can also ask the lawyers you shortlist to provide references for their past clients. Speaking to these clients will help you gauge the effectiveness of each lawyer’s services.

You can also review each attorney’s website to better understand their working style. Going through their blog posts, FAQs section, client testimonials, and social media accounts will also give you insights into their track record. You may also want to refer to third-party review websites, such as Avvo, to know more about your preferred lawyer and make an educated decision.

Look for an Accessible Lawyer

Among the biggest signs of a dependable family, a lawyer is, how much attention they pay to client’s needs. If you come across a lawyer who is easily accessible and prompt in providing inputs/recommendations, then you should consider them seriously. It will be even better if the lawyer prefers to skip the jargon and communicate in regular English.
Further, you should hire a local lawyer to ensure you’re working with someone who is aware of the laws of the land. Only a local lawyer will know family law in Buffalo and use its strengths and weaknesses to supplement your cause. Also, it is more convenient to travel to a local lawyer’s office.

Watch Out for Red Flags

Needless to say, you should steer clear of lawyers who exhibit unethical behavior. Some of the warning signs to look for include:

  • The lawyer shares clients’ information with others without consent
  • The lawyer is inattentive to case details and is often distracted by phone calls and other consultations
  • The lawyer is complacent or overly-aggressive
  • The lawyer makes unrealistic promises
  • The lawyer refuses to provide references of previous clients
  • The lawyer makes no effort to make a personal connection with clients

Enquire about Fees

One of the biggest mistakes people make when hiring an attorney is to go for the cheapest one. This will save you money, but most likely won’t yield a positive outcome for you. More often than not, lawyers charge low when they lack popularity and demand.
While the services of a trustworthy lawyer, who is conversant with family law in Buffalo, will come at the price, it will be worth the money. They will know exactly how to formulate the best possible case strategy and will display a high level of expertise, work ethic, professionalism, and competency.
Ask your prospective lawyers about their fee structure. Go for someone who charges a flat fee. The more transparent they are in this aspect, the more reliable they’ll prove to be.

Go for a Specialist

Family law is complex and ever-evolving. You should, therefore, hire an attorney with in-depth expertise and experience in family law in Buffalo.
It will be an added advantage if your lawyer has the specific skills that your case needs. For example, if you’re filing for divorce, choose a lawyer will excellent negotiation skills. Similarly, if you’re likely to have a contested divorce, choose someone with ample courtroom experience.


Family law matters are usually sensitive in nature. The method of dispute resolution, as well as the outcome achieved, can have a huge impact on the quality of not only your life but also that of your family. An attorney well-versed with family law in Buffalo will understand this. They will minutely study your case facts, explain the local law, and help you explore your legal options. Further, they will be able to provide representation during negotiations as well as court hearings. The above tips should help you pick an able family law attorney.

Consult Our Tenacious Family Law Attorneys in Buffalo

Hiring a competent lawyer is not an option, but a necessity. At Carlson & Jones, P.A., we understand how important it is for you to choose the right family attorney for your case. We will protect your interests and help shape your case proceedings to get a positive outcome. Call our able family lawyers at (855) 976-2444 or contact us through our online form to schedule a free consultation.

5 Crucial Things to Know about Family Law in Minnetonka

When entering the matrimonial bond, no one thinks that their union may not be able to stand the test of time. In the real world, not all couples find they are happily ever after. Sometimes, you may have to end your affiliation with a divorce.

Divorce laws vary from one state to another, especially when it comes to wealth distribution, child custody rights, and child support and alimony, among other things. If you are getting divorced in Minnetonka, you will need to understand the Minnesota family law.

The more you know about the law, the better will be the outcome of your divorce case. Although you can consult a lawyer practicing family law in Minnetonka, it is still a good idea to do a little digging of your own.

Here are a few key things that you need to know about family law in Minnetonka.

1. Minnesota Is a “No-Fault” State

Years ago, Minnesota (like most other states) required the party seeking a divorce to prove wrongdoing to be eligible for legal separation. These reasons were usually related to domestic abuse, desertion, and adultery. However, this is no longer the case. If you are filing for divorce as per family law in Minnetonka (and the rest of Minnesota), you don’t need to prove specific grounds.

Regardless of the reason, you will get a divorce if you apply for it. However, you do need to state that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. There is also no need for a period of separation before filing for divorce, allowing you to get divorced relatively quickly.

2. You Have to Meet Residency Requirements

The first thing any lawyer practicing family law in Minnetonka will tell you is that residency is a fundamental requirement for legal separation. One of the parties seeking a divorce must have been a resident or domicile of Minnesota for at least 180 days before filing for divorce. There can be exceptions to this rule. You should consult a licensed divorce attorney to see if these exceptions apply to your case.

3. Joint Child Custody Is the Most Likely Outcome

If you are a parent seeking a divorce, your foremost concern will be child custody. The court will determine the child custody on a case-to-case basis. However, family law in Minnetonka requires the court to consider the best interest of the children when awarding child custody.

Usually, courts prefer to award joint legal child custody, where both parents get equal rights to make significant decisions about the kids. These decisions include education, religion, and healthcare, among other things.

In case of joint legal custody, the court will allow the kids to stay with only one parent. Sometimes, however, the court may also award joint physical custody if it is in the best interest of the kids. Several factors, including domestic and child abuse, parent’s criminal record, and financial situation, will also affect the child custody decision.

4. Child Support Calculations Are Complicated

Minnesota has complicated support laws. In 2007, Minnesota switched to the income share model for child support. As per this model, the amount of child support depends on each parent’s income and the time they spend with the kids.

However, as per the child support laws 2018 modifications, the state has retained the income shares model, but the PEA structure is no longer valid. The state now uses a much more complicated formula to calculate child support. You need to consult an attorney with years of experience in practicing family law in Minnetonka to help you calculate yours.

5. Minnesota Is a Marital Property State

Minnesota is not a “community property” state. So, the court will not divide all your marital property in half, although that is the usual outcome. The equitable distribution of marital property will consider the financial standing and source of income of each spouse. For example, if one spouse has a considerably lower income and weaker financial situation, they may get a larger portion of the marital property.

The law also states that any property acquired after marriage and before the valuation date is considered marital property. The court believes both spouses have made equal contributions for earning such properties. So, the court has the right to divide it equitably between you and your soon-to-be-ex.

As a result, the titles are inconsequential. For example, if you own a car, the court may still consider it marital property. The judge may give it to whoever has a greater need for it, which could be your spouse.

In some cases, the court may consider property as both marital and non-marital, making distribution more complicated. That’s why you need a lawyer specializing in family law in Minnetonka. Your lawyer can offer a better solution after a careful analysis of your assets and debts.


Family law in Minnetonka is governed by state laws and legislation mostly. If you are getting divorced, you will need to consult an attorney. However, you must also understand at least a few crucial things about family law for your own good. Hopefully, these five tips will prove helpful in this regard. If you feel confused or are unable to understand something, consult your lawyer immediately.

Call Lawyers with Years of Experience in Practicing Family Law in Minnetonka

If you are getting divorced in Minnetonka, you need an experienced and skilled team of divorce lawyers on your side. Carlson & Jones, P.A. is one of the leading family law firms with offices across Minnesota, including Minnetonka. Call us on (855) 976-2444 or contact us online to discuss your case.

5 Ways an Attorney Specializing in Family Law in Buffalo Can Benefit You

Although a divorce makes for a civil case, it is not a legal matter that you can take lightly. You need experienced and skilled legal representation, especially when children are involved. The outcome of your divorce case, even if it is amicable, can change the course of your life forever.

However, you can’t hire the first lawyer you meet to handle your divorce case. If you want to protect your rights as a spouse and a parent, you need an attorney specializing in family law in Buffalo. With extensive courtroom and mediation experience, a proven track record, and having dealt with several sensitive divorce situations, a family lawyer can offer you several benefits that no one else can.

Here are a few ways a lawyer specializing in family law in Buffalo can help you.

1. Extensive Knowledge of Family Law in Buffalo

Perhaps the most important benefit a lawyer brings to the table is the extensive knowledge of family law applicable in Buffalo. Like any other law, family law is also complex and subject to changes from time to time. Even the smallest change in a bylaw can have a huge impact on the outcome of your divorce case.

An average person is less likely to be aware of the changes in the family law in Buffalo, making it difficult to present their case in the best possible light. Your lawyer, on the other hand, knows the latest laws, regulations as well as amendments. They are also familiar with the local court proceedings.

Your divorce attorney can help you avoid silly mistakes that could cost you dearly down the line. With the future of your children and your own finances hanging in the balance, you can’t afford to make any mistakes or jump to conclusions when getting divorced, no matter how amicable.

2. Handle All Your Paperwork

Divorce cases involve a ton of paperwork. Creating and optimizing documents like child custody agreements, estate paperwork and wills, spousal benefits, prenup agreements, retirement benefits, and pension, among other things, can be overwhelming for you if you are self-representing.

However, when you work with a lawyer, they will take care of everything, from filing motions in the court to checking and putting your financial documents in order.

If you make a mistake in the paperwork, you could end up without spousal benefits or lose all your savings. You may also have to endure child custody arrangements that you might not like. Your experienced divorce attorney in Buffalo will make sure to provide you with impeccable paperwork that will lay a solid foundation for your post-divorce life.

3. Help You Save Money

Although you may find it surprising, paying for a family lawyer can actually help you save money. The longer it takes to complete your divorce, the more money you will be spending on legal proceedings, paperwork, and court fees. Your lawyer can help speed up the process. They will also help you stay organized, focused, and make the right decisions during the divorce proceedings. These steps can help you save considerable money.

Your lack of knowledge about family law in Buffalo can leave you with a short end of the stick. For example, you can agree to pay child support that you can’t afford or give away the farm, stripping you of all your savings and investments. However, your lawyer will make sure to protect your wealth.

4. Offer Objective Legal Advice

Going through a divorce is an emotional rollercoaster for most people. You have to deal with a lot of emotional, mental, and even physical stress. It can take a toll on your health and your family relationships. However, making emotional decisions can be counter-productive when getting divorced.

Emotions can impact your decision-making ability. But, with your attorney by your side, you can get an objective review of your case. They can help you chalk out suitable parenting plans, furnish correct financial information, and help during mediation. Thus, you will be able to put the entire weight of the family law in Buffalo behind your case, ensuring you get the most favorable outcome.

5. Help with Divorce Mediation

As you may already know, most divorce cases don’t go to trial. Usually, couples tend to resolve their legal separation issues through either voluntary or court-ordered mediation. Mediation involves several stages and negotiations before both parties come to an agreement. Although family law in Buffalo doesn’t require you to have your lawyer present during the mediation, it is still better to consult a lawyer.

Your attorney can help you approach mediation with a balanced mind. They can also explain the rules of mediation, prepare your mediation agreement, walk you through the process, review proposed settlements, and prepare the formal paperwork. Your lawyer can also help you find a suitable mediator if one isn’t appointed by the court.


As you can see, your family lawyer can provide you with more than just legal advice. They can be your ally in perhaps the most stressful time in your life. Hiring the right attorney can help you navigate the complex family law efficiently and in relatively less time. Hopefully, reading about how an attorney specializing in family law in Buffalo can benefit you will encourage you to hire one.

Consult the Experts in Family Law in Buffalo Today!

Carlson & Jones, P.A. is one of the most trusted family law firms in Buffalo. We will fight to protect your rights as a spouse and a parent. Our team of experienced lawyers handles everything, from divorce and child custody to alimony and mediation. Call us right away at (855) 976-2444 to schedule a free consultation or reach us via our website.

What is a Non-Custodial Parent in Brainerd, MN

When children are involved, getting a divorce is often challenging as most couples tend to fight over who will get child custody. Although some parents will settle their child custody issues amicably through mutual discussion and mediation, most parents will leave it to the court to decide the fate of their children.

 In Minnesota, the primary responsibility of a court or judge is to consider the well-being of the children in question. So, depending on the circumstances of your case, the court will decide if one parent gets full custody of the children or both parents share it equally.

1. Types of Child Custody in Minnesota

There are two types of child custody in Minnesota: physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the residence of the children, which is most likely to be awarded to one parent in most cases. However, in some situations, the court may award joint physical custody as well.

Legal custody, on the other hand, is about the upbringing of the children, including education, health, and religion or faith. If the court awards joint legal custody, both parents retain equal rights and responsibility for raising their children, including the right to make decisions about education, health, and religion or faith.

However, if the court awards sole legal custody to one parent, only that parent gets these rights. The other parent will also have some limited rights, unless the court specifies otherwise.  

As you can see, this is a complex issue that involves several different factors, requiring you to get legal help as soon as possible. You should talk to an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, MN to understand how child custody laws will work in your case.

2. What Is a Non-Custodial Parent in Brainerd, MN?

In Minnesota, usually a non-custodial parent is often the one without physical and legal custody of the children. You should, however, note that a non-custodial parent may have shared legal custody of their children. This means, they will have equal rights in deciding the major decisions in the upbringing of their children.

However, even if you don’t have both physical and legal custody, you can still enjoy a variety of legal rights as a non-custodial parent. Courts usually provide these rights to ensure the welfare of children.

3. What Legal Rights Do Non-Custodial Parents Have in Brainerd, MN?

Not just in Brainerd, but all over Minnesota, a non-custodial parent will have the following rights, unless the court specifically decides otherwise:

  •  You can have access to phone number and/or email of your children.
  • You can get access to health, school, and religious records as well as police reports of your children.
  • You can access information about their health and dental insurance.
  • You can know the address and contact information of your children’s current school, and you will also be kept updated of your children’s progress in school by the school authorities. Please note, however, the school is not required to hold separate conference for you and your ex.   
  • The custodial parent is required to inform you about any major development in your children’s lives, including accidents, other medical emergencies, and police arrests or any other criminal issues. However, if you are the perpetrator in the said crime, the custodial parent is not required to inform you of such incident.  

The court may decide to take away these rights partially or fully, depending on your case. It is only after a detailed consultation with an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, MN that you will know where you stand in this regard. 

4. Does Non-Custodial Parent Have to Pay Child Support?

According to the state’s law, the non-custodial parent is required to pay child support, irrespective of how much the custodial parent earns. The child support law changes in 2018 have further complicated how child support is calculated in Minnesota. The state now uses an income share model that takes into account the income of both parents and divides the child support between them accordingly.

Several factors, such as federal and state income taxes, your health insurance premiums, pension, and social security deductions, among other things will play a critical role in determining your net income and also your child support amount.

Child support is also subject to modifications, depending on the circumstances of your case. Talk to an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, MN to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding child support.


As a non-custodial parent in Minnesota, you can remain involved in your children’s life although you may have limited or no legal rights and limited visitations. To protect your rights, however, make sure to consult a child support attorney. You may be able to modify custodial arrangements with the help of your lawyer. So, stay positive and stay strong, and above all focus on your kids.

Consult an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Brainerd, MN Now!

Child custody battles are extremely challenging. If you are struggling to understand and fight for the custody of your children, Carlson & Jones, P.A. can provide you with the right legal support. We have helped countless parents get the best possible child custody outcomes. Call us at (855) 976-2444 or contact us online to know how we can help you.

Alimony Modifications and Hutchinson, MN Family Law Attorneys

Income changes cause most spousal support modifications Such adjustments are frequent, since most people change jobs twelve times during their careers. The obligor’s income obviously affects his/her ability to pay. And, the obligee’s income increase might change his/her economic need. Not all income changes qualify as modification events. Under Minnesota law, the change must be unanticipated, permanent, and substantial. These three adjectives rule out a number of events, perhaps even including retirement.

Sometimes, the obligee’s economic need changes in other ways as well. That change could be a close relationship with a paramour or a failure to follow a written rehabilitation plan.

Hutchinson, MN family law attorneys must not only establish a foundation of adjustment. The court normally calculates the amount and duration of the payments as well. These determinations, whether a McLeod County judge performs them or the parties agree to them, must jive with the factors listed below.

Changed Circumstances

Before we get to changed circumstances, we should first take a step back and examine some basic points of initial alimony determinations.

In Minnesota, judges can award temporary, short-term, or long-term alimony. Temporary alimony helps obligees pay divorce-related expenses, such as attorneys’ fees and property rental deposits. Short-term alimony helps obligees with economic needs become economically self-sufficient. Long-term alimony is usually only available if the obligee is disabled, cares for a disabled child, or is otherwise incapable of self-support.

To see how the aforementioned job and life change factors work in McLeod County, let’s look at a couple of examples.

Assume Mike and Karen divorce in their late 50s after many years of marriage. Since Karen was the homemaker and Mike was the breadwinner, Karen has no current job skills and is therefore largely unemployable. So, Mike pays substantial alimony until he turns 65, when he retires.

Mike confidently works with a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney. He assumes the judge will cut off alimony or at least reduce his payments. But not so fast. Retirement is not an unanticipated event. People get older and retire. The judge might still reduce Mike’s alimony payments, but Karen might have something to say about that.

Now assume Karen finds a new boyfriend a few years after she divorces Mike. But she does not marry her boyfriend, so Mike is still technically required to pay spousal support.

But once again, not so fast. If Karen had a long-term relationship with her boyfriend which involved some shared financial matters, such as a joint checking account or joint home purchase, a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney might still be able to reduce Mike’s spousal support payments.

Hutchinson, MN Family Law Attorneys and Amount/Duration Adjustments

So, either former spouse may seek to change the alimony obligation based on changed circumstances. Next, the amount and duration of payments must be re-calculated, as follows:

  • Obligee’s Financial Resources: In emotional modifications, like a new boyfriend or girlfriend, this factor is usually paramount. A new partner’s income is usually not relevant in child support inquiries, but it is incredibly relevant in spousal support matters.
  • Standard of Living During the Marriage: This factor’s significance diminishes in modification proceedings, especially if the parties have been divorced for more than a few years.
  • Relative Earning Capacity: Typically, young, healthy, and well-educated people have significant earning potential. So, if there is a considerable age, health, or other discrepancy between the two former spouses, this gap might justify an increase or decrease in spousal support payments.
  • Contributions to the Marriage: Much like the standard of living factor, this consideration is important in initial determinations, but not as important in subsequent modifications.

Most modification claims settle out of court. That includes both the need for modification and the new amount and duration of payments. As long as each spouse had an independent Hutchinson, MN family law attorney through the whole process, most McLeod County judges approve most of these settlements. Frequently, they do not even require hearings.

So, your Hutchinson, MN family law attorney must be more than a diligent researcher and forceful litigator. Your attorney must also be a good negotiator.

Connect with an Assertive Lawyer

Initial spousal support determinations are not set in stone. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

When Can Minnesota Family Lawyers Modify Child Support Obligations?

For many families, child support payments are a significant chunk of their monthly income. But only about a third of obligees (people receiving support) receive the full amount every month. Many obligors (people paying support) pay what they feel is fair as opposed to what is ordered. In these situations, the child support amount should probably be modified, so obligor, obligees, and children have similar expectations.

Child support obligations are somewhat easier to modify in Minnesota than they are in some other jurisdictions. The Gopher State is an income share state. Since the child support obligation accounts for a number of economic and noneconomic factors, judges can usually modify support amounts.

Intentionally underpaying support is a bad idea. It’s only a matter of time before the state takes action. So, whether you need to increase or decrease the child support obligation, it’s best to partner with a Minnesota family lawyer.

Income Decreases

Monthly income is one of the leading factors in child support determinations. So, if the obligor’s income has decreased, a child support modification is usually in order. It’s normally best to act quickly in these cases since child support decreases are normally not retroactive.

Proof of income is normally enough evidence, particularly for obligors who only have W-2 income. Self-employed obligors might need to submit additional proof, such as several years of tax returns or several months of bank statements, to show the income decrease was authentic and consistent.

Minnesota family lawyers usually cannot decrease the amount if there is evidence that the obligor intentionally left a higher-paying job to reduce his or her child support obligation. Evidence of intentional underemployment includes things such as social media posts or likes about the high cost of child support or the supposed unfairness of these payments. Such chatter is especially common on some dubious fathers’ rights websites.

Minnesota Family Lawyers and Income Increases

Income increases are a bit more difficult to prove unless a Minnesota family lawyer conducts extensive discovery. This process is often expensive and time-consuming. So, it’s better to look for circumstantial evidence of income increase, like lifestyle upgrades or a sudden improved ability to pay monthly bills. If the obligor contests the increase despite this evidence, many judges order obligors to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees.

Establishing changed income is not enough. That change must also be substantial and permanent. As a rule of thumb, any change greater than about 10 percent is substantial. Judges mike modify child support obligations for lesser amounts, but such changes are not easy. Additionally, the increased income must be permanent. Self-employment income spikes and occasional bonuses are almost always insufficient.

Income change modifications are typically agreed motions. Generally, a Minnesota family lawyer simply submits these orders. Most judges sign them without hearings.

Frequently, both parents are not 100 percent convinced that a modification is needed. Pre-filing mediation is often useful in these situations. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Minnesota family lawyer, works with both sides to facilitate a settlement.

Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful. This form of alternative dispute resolution saves everyone time and money.

Emotional Changes

The timesharing arrangement is also a factor in Minnesota child support orders. So, the timesharing division is also a potential factor in child support modification actions. However, emotional-based modifications are not easy to prove.

The same basic principles apply. The emotional changes must be substantial. Usually, only a significant change in the number of overnight visits convinces judges to make such modifications. Alternatively, conversions from partial visitation to full visitation might suffice as well. For example, Father might have had limited contact with his son until he overcame an alcohol addiction.

Parental Alienation Syndrome, which comes in many forms, often clouds these issues. Alienating parents try to drive an emotional wedge between the targeted parent and the child. If the judge sees any evidence of PAS, such as a sudden change of parental preference, they will usually not modify custody or support unless a social worker makes a favorable recommendation.

Talk to a Compassionate Attorney

Various factors could support a successful child support modification motion. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota family lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and after-hours visits are available.

Why is Paternity Such an Important Part of Buffalo Family Law?

A generation ago, out-of-wedlock births were quite rare. But things have changed a lot since the 1960s. Now, such births are the norm, at least among some population groups. These families must overcome some unique emotional, financial, and other obstacles. Paternity orders are a great help. Some of the key benefits are outlined below.

As far as Buffalo family lawyers are concerned, these matters are usually rather straightforward. A man’s signature on a birth certificate is not conclusive proof of paternity, but it does create a nearly-irrebuttable presumption. In other cases, most men agree to paternity. In other cases, the judge usually orders a DNA test. These tests are incredibly accurate and completely non-invasive. And, if the alleged father refuses to provide a sample, the judge normally assumes the results would have been positive.

Financial Support

Regular child support payments might be the biggest financial advantage of a paternity order. Additionally, a court order gives mothers access to a number of enforcement tools, such as wage garnishment and payment intercept, if they become necessary.

Minnesota is an income share state. So, child support payments help children have the same lifestyle they would have had if their parents were married.

Other financial support might be available as well. For example, a Buffalo family lawyer can insert language ordering the father to provide partial reimbursement of hospital and other birth expenses. And, child support orders usually require obligors (people paying support) to include the children on group health insurance plans.

Personal Protection

Some mothers are reluctant to file paternity actions because they do not want the fathers to know where they live. That’s quite unfortunate, because in many cases, a paternity order is the best way to protect mothers and their children.

Many paternity orders include either temporary or permanent protective orders. These orders routinely prohibit fathers from coming to certain places, like the mother’s place of business, or doing certain things, like interfering with utility services. Other provisions might order fathers to surrender firearms or attend anger management classes.

These protective orders are more than pieces of paper. Law enforcement might not quickly respond to things like stalking reports. But if the stalking involves the violation of a court order, the outcome is usually different. Additionally, court orders allow mothers to give third parties, like daycares and schools, formal notice about the situation.

Enforceable Visitation Limits and Buffalo Family Lawyers

Many parents have informal visitation arrangements which work very well. In other cases, however, establishing a consistent schedule is quite difficult. These arrangements are especially hard on young children who need stability and predictability.

Paternity orders include parenting time schedules. Everyone falls into a visitation routine. And, if circumstances change, a Buffalo family lawyer can modify these provisions later.

Access to Medical Records

Family history is a significant part of many medical diagnoses, especially serious chronic conditions like diabetes or heart problems. If the child has no legal father, the doctor only has access to half the family history. A paternity order gives doctors the legal authority to obtain the information they need.

On a related note, paternity orders give mothers the right to control access to things like educational and counseling records.

Additional Paternal Responsibility

A Buffalo family lawyer almost always obtains the relief outlined in the above sections. This final benefit does not happen in all cases, but it does happen in most of them.

Frequently, court orders encourage fathers to step up to the plate, both financially and emotionally. Before a paternity order, child support payments might occasionally trickle in. But once court supervision begins, these payments are normally much more consistent. Emotionally, the same thing often happens. Fathers who dropped by once or twice a month are usually at the appointed exchange place at the appropriate time. Children benefit, especially in terms of these emotional changes.

Connect with a Compassionate Attorney

Paternity orders make family life easier. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo family lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

A Family Law Attorney in Buffalo, MN Looks at Millennial Prenups

Since many Millenials are children of divorce, when they get married themselves, they are willing to think outside the box if it means keeping their unions intact. So, it’s little wonder that these couples are increasingly entering into premarital agreements before they tie the knot.

Prenuptial agreements are much more than divorce insurance. Frequently, they make marriages stronger. Money is one of the leading sources of marital friction. And, prenups remove financial matters from the equation before these issues have a chance to create tension.

Most agreements between spouses, including premarital agreements, are enforceable. However, Minnesota lawmakers have not adopted the Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act. So, prenups are only enforceable in rather limited circumstances. Therefore, only an experienced family law attorney in Buffalo, MN should handle these matters, whether you are trying to make or break a premarital agreement.

Making Premarital Agreements

Money is not just one of the most problematic issues during a marriage. It’s also one of the most problematic areas during a divorce. And, if the unthinkable happens, most Millennials do not want to pay the steep emotional and financial costs associated with divorce.

Prenuptial agreements clearly distinguish marital property from nonmarital property. So, if the parties divorce, family law attorneys in Buffalo, MN need not spend vast amounts of time classifying property. That’s assuming the prenuptial agreement is enforceable, as set forth below.

Premarital contracts usually also include spousal support limitations. These provisions give people additional peace of mind. If Wife has substantially more money than Husband, Wife and her family both know that Husband is not marrying Wife for her money.

Emotional issues might be a consideration as well, especially if either spouse has been married before and the union involves a small business. Frequently, Minnesota’s antiquated intestacy laws do not keep up with modern families. Prenuptial agreements clarify inheritance and succession matters. To make these decisions even clearer and easier to enforce, mand family law attorneys in Buffalo, MN also draw up executory documents, such as wills and estate plans.

Only a few matters are off-limits in this area, such as child custody and child support. These matters must be in the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents.

Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorneys and Breaking Premarital Agreements

No contract is absolutely ironclad. There is usually a way to undo almost any kind of contract, and premarital agreements are no exception. Prenups are only enforceable in Minnesota if:

  • Recorded in Deed Records: Since they often affect real property, prenuptial agreements must be recorded in the deed records of Wright County, or wherever the prenup was signed. If the spouses move, the prenuptial agreement must move with them.
  • Voluntary: There is almost always some pressure to sign a premarital agreement. Sometimes, there is excessive pressure, such as a “sign or else” ultimatum. These things are usually not enough to invalidate a premarital contract. But sometimes, the pressure gets too great, and the pact is involuntary.
  • Full Disclosure: This bullet is related to the previous one. Agreements are involuntary if a spouse did not know what s/he was signing. The omission must be material to the issues in the contract. And, most judges also require challenging spouses to prove they could not have obtained the information elsewhere.
  • Unconscionable: A 60-40 division is uneven but probably not unconscionable. A division like “I get all the assets and you get all the debts” is clearly unconscionable. Additionally, the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. Stock is a good example. These certificates could be incredibly valuable one day and worthless pieces of paper the next day.
  • Separate Counsel Throughout: Each spouse must have an independent Buffalo, MN family law attorney throughout the entire process, and each spouse must have an equal opportunity to consult with counsel. Wife cannot spring the agreement on Husband at the least minute, even if Husband has a Buffalo, MN family law attorney.

Generally, the challenging party must prove the agreement was invalid by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of evidence in Minnesota.

Furthermore, most premarital agreements have severability provisions. If a judge invalidates one part, the remainder is still in force.

Contact a Diligent Lawyer

Premarital agreements are not just divorce insurance. In many cases, they are anti-divorce insurance. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Buffalo, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

When can a Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorney Adjust a Child Support Obligation?

Typically, child support obligations should be adjusted, either up or down, at least once every three years. That’s the only way to keep up with things like employment changes, lifestyle changes, and emotional changes. Child support adjustments usually require parenting plan modifications as well, because these changes frequently overlap. For example, a new job usually means a different commute time or even a relocation.

In both these situations, it’s very important that the judge approve the changes. Informal side agreements regarding parenting time changes, even if these pacts are in writing, are unenforceable in Wright County family court. Additionally, as far as the state is concerned, the child support obligation listed in the decree, and not the one the parties agreed on, is the only one that matters.

So, even if the child support change is agreed, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney should be part of the process. Typically, judges approve agreed changes without holding hearings. Moreover, if the parties do not agree 100 percent on everything, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney can usually bring them together. That way, they can present an agreed order to the judge and streamline the modification process.

Income Changes

Most people change jobs at least twelve times during their careers. Most of these changes involve compensation changes as well. Additionally, even if people stay put, annual salary adjustments are commonplace.

As for proof, sometimes a recent paystub is sufficient, for obligors requesting increases or decreases. But that’s not true in most cases. A significant number of people freelance on the side, or they might be completely self-employed. Additionally, some compensation, such as a company car or provided housing, does not appear on paystubs.

Obligees seeking to increase the child support obligation often face different issues. So, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney requests financial documents during discovery. Obligees can also look for red flags, such as lifestyle changes, which indicate the obligor is making more money.

Income changes, along with any other ground for modification, must be mostly involuntary. Obligors cannot leave high-paying jobs in order to reduce their child support obligations. The same thing holds true for alimony reductions. Circumstantial evidence of intentional underemployment includes social media posts about high support payments.

Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorneys and Expense Changes

In a few states, parental income, and specifically the obligor’s income, is basically the only factor to consider. But Minnesota is an income share state. Child support payments in these states are designed to give the children the same standard of living they would have had if their parents were still married.

So, in Wright County, expense changes could prompt payment changes. Some expenses, such as insurance costs, are factored into the child support guidelines. Others, such as private school tuition costs, are not factored in.

Expense changes will not support a motion to modify child support unless they were unanticipated at the time the decree was entered. Daycare expenses are a good example. These changes are inevitable. Children get older, leave daycare, and attend school. The added money obligees receive through elementary and middle school years helps them cope with the increased expenses which come during the high school years.

Moreover, expense changes must be in the best interests of the children. That’s different from the best interests of the parents. Private afterschool care might be much more convenient than the YMCA, but it may not necessarily be in the best interests of the child.

Emotional Changes

Speaking of children growing older, child support terminates at age 18, in most cases. Most decrees include language to that effect, but sometimes, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney needs to file a motion to modify based on age, marriage, emancipation, or whatever.

Not all emotional changes are this dramatic. As mentioned, Minnesota is an income share state. So, the parenting time division is relevant to the child support obligation. As children get older, visitation time often changes as well. Eight or ten overnights a month might become a dozen or more.

If the emotional change is significant, the judge will probably adjust the child support obligation appropriately. Usually, this adjustment is just a matter of recalculating the guideline amount using the correct number of overnights. Smaller changes, such as children staying with Mom after school, probably do not qualify as significant.

Reach Out to a Compassionate Lawyer

Child support obligation amounts are not set in stone. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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Minnetonka, MN 55305

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