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.

Love, Baseball, Premarital Agreements, and Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers

Those are four items you probably never thought you’d see in the same sentence. Yet beginning in the spring of 2011, they all came together. Well, all of them except for the Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers component. Nevertheless, the Frank and Jamie McCourt divorce saga has some important lessons for Wright County family law attorneys.

Some baseball fans might remember the McCourts. This billionaire power couple owned the Los Angeles Dodgers in the early 2000s.

Minnesota is one of the few states which has not adopted the Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act. Generally, lawmakers in St. Paul do not follow trends. They either start them or ignore them. Nevertheless, the issues presented in the McCourt prenup matter are very similar to the ones Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers face on an ongoing basis.

Prenups in Minnesota and Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers: An Overview

Rich couples who own baseball teams are by no means the only people who should consider prenuptial agreements. For the most part, these pacts are much more than divorce insurance. Since they decide most financial matters in advance, prenups usually make marriages stronger. Money is the leading cause of marital distress. And, premarital agreements remove money from the equation.

In Minnesota, prenuptial agreements can cover more than property division, spousal support, and property management issues. These pacts also often address inheritance and succession matters, especially if the couple owns a family business and stepchildren are involved. Frequently, Minnesota’s antiquated inheritance laws do not jive with a couple’s intentions.

Generally, premarital agreements are valid as long as each couple had an independent Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, the agreement was properly recorded in the deed records, it was not blatantly one-sided, and it was voluntary. Those first two requirements are largely technicalities. The second two requirements, however, merit closer attention.

Dodgers Bankruptcy

Aided greatly by Kirk Gibson’s impossible home run in Game One, the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988. After that, the club fielded a succession of underachieving teams. Fan interest waned, and so did team revenues. When the McCourts bought the Dodgers in the early 2000s, they probably thought their investment epitomized the old axiom of buying low and selling high. Little did they know that the Dodgers would sink even lower before they rose again.

The team finally bottomed out in June 2011. Reportedly, Frank McCourt, who was the only remaining owner, did not have enough cash to make payroll. So, the club filed bankruptcy.

Then, something else impossible happened. The Dodgers suddenly became contenders again, largely due to the emergence of pitching ace Clayton Kershaw. Notoriously fickle SoCal fans returned and the team’s revenue exploded. As a result, Frank sold the team for a whopping $2.15 billion.

Breaking Down the McCourt Property Agreement

Just before the Dodgers went to bankruptcy court, the team owners were in divorce court. Supposedly, things came to a head for the feuding couple when Jamie had an affair with her bodyguard.

The divorce was contentious to say the least. Lawyers spent most of their time on the property division. Since the team was on the edge of bankruptcy and almost worthless, Jamie agreed to give up her half of the team for about $180 million in cash and property. That seemed like a good deal at the time.

Jamie’s jaw probably fell open when she saw the news of the sale. After all, California is a community property state. So, she argued in court, half that $2.15 billion was hers.

Eventually, a Superior Court judge disagreed. As mentioned above, Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers can use these same arguments in Wright County.

  • Withheld Information: In both California and Minnesota, prenuptial agreements are invalid if a party withholds financial data. Jamie claimed that Frank misled her about the team’s value. However, the judge noted that Frank produced tens of thousands of financial documents during discovery. Additionally, even if Frank did lie to her, Jamie was a co-owner at the time. So, she could have reviewed all the financial data she wanted.
  • Unconscionable Agreement: By almost any definition, the property agreement’s result was unconscionable. It left Jamie $900 million shy of a 50-50 split in a community property state. However, the agreement was not unconscionable when it was made. According to the court: “Jamie simply chose the security of a guaranteed $131 million payment, plus more than $50 million in real and personal property, over the uncertainty and risk presented by the valuation and sale of the Dodger assets.”

So, Jamie lost her appeal and even had to pay her ex-husband’s legal fees. But her story has a somewhat happy ending. The longtime GOP fundraiser recently became the U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco.

Contact a Dedicated Attorney

Prenups are not just for billionaires. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Why Should a Law Firm in Buffalo, MN File a Paternity Action?

In the United States, almost half of all children are born out of wedlock. The proportion is much higher in certain ethnic groups. For many families, such births are the best possible lifestyle choice for everyone concerned.

Like all the decisions we make, these choices have some costs. In this case, these costs are both financial and emotional. As mentioned, these costs are usually worth paying.

However, a law firm in Buffalo, MN can easily minimize these costs. Generally, the legal process is rather straightforward. And, the benefits of a paternity order are difficult to ignore.

Protection for You and Your Child

Some mothers have very poor relationships with biological fathers. Many mothers are afraid to disclose their addresses in court documents. Generally, a law firm in Buffalo, MN can redact this information, so it’s unavailable to anyone other than the judge and court personnel.

Additionally, most paternity actions include protective orders. These orders generally last at least until the case is over, and many times, they become permanent injunctions in the final paternity decree. These orders prohibit biological fathers from going certain places and doing certain things. The orders might also limit firearm ownership and contain other such provisions.

Protective orders are more than pieces of paper. Violating a protective order, even in a nonviolent manner, is a serious offense. Additionally, these orders allow mothers to give daycares and other groups notice about the situation.

Financial Support

In terms of child support, Minnesota is an income share state. Child support payments are designed to give children the lifestyle they would have if their parents were married. So, in many cases, the child support obligation is substantial.

Buffalo, MN law firms can include other financial support provisions as well. Typically, biological fathers must include their children on their group health insurance plans. Moreover, a Wright County judge might order the biological father to pay for part of the hospital bill, reimburse the mother for certain costs, and pay other expenses.

A Buffalo, MN Law Firm and a Written Visitation Plan

Some mothers have relatively good relationships with biological fathers. They have an informal and unwritten parenting timeshare plan which works pretty well. But even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. It’s much better to have things in writing. If these writings are enforceable in court, that’s better still. The parties can still generally agree on any parenting time division. But the written orders give everyone something to fall back on.

Many parenting plans also include limitations where appropriate. For example, a father might lack the parenting skills to take care of a baby for more than a few hours. Or, the father might have a substance abuse problem or a bad temper. A Buffalo, MN law firm can insert requirements like parenting classes and alcohol treatment into a paternity order. Generally, contact with the child is tied to the successful completion of these conditions.

These provisions often help biological fathers grow up and become responsible parents. This change has some other benefits as well, as outlined below.

Access to Medical Records

When children get sick, doctors often rely on family medical history to make accurate diagnoses. If the doctor only has access to the mother’s family medical history, the doctor only has half the pieces to a puzzle, at best.

A legal paternity order gives physicians full access to all family medical history. That additional access could make a big difference in your child’s health.

Emotional Aspects

In many ways, paternity orders are like adoption decrees or name change orders. These legal documents have emotional power. Children have identifiable fathers, and fathers are more like dads. As mentioned, that same father-to-dad transformation positively affects many fathers.

Moreover, at some point in the future, many children become curious about their parents’ ancestry and family history. A paternity order now makes these future conversations much easier to have.

Reach Out to a Dedicated Attorney

Paternity orders have financial and emotional benefits for mothers and children. For a free consultation at a Buffalo, MN law firm, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

Prenuptial Agreements and Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers

No one wants or expects to die early. But responsible people obtain life insurance policies, especially once they have families. So, their families are protected if the unthinkable occurs.

In some ways, a prenuptial agreement is a lot like a life insurance policy. No one wants or expects to get divorced. Nevertheless, responsible spouses usually obtain premarital agreements. So, their families are protected if the unthinkable occurs. In this context, protecting one’s family usually means avoiding an expensive and protracted marriage dissolution.

In other ways, a prenuptial agreement is a lot more than a life insurance policy. Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers can draft prenuptial agreements that resolve financial disagreements before they become arguments. IN other words, a life insurance policy cannot prolonge your life. But a premarital agreement could very well prolonge your marriage.

Making a Prenuptial Agreement

Life insurance policies and prenuptial agreements are both contracts. So, both these documents must have all the basic elements of a contract, including:

  • Offer and Acceptance: A few Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers draft vague prenuptial agreements, reasoning that such documents are more flexible. That might be true, but such documents also might be unenforceable. All the terms must be clear. If circumstances change, a prenup can be modified later.
  • Consideration: An agreement in principle is not an enforceable contract. Each signatory must either get something of value or give up something of value. The consideration need not be substantial or even tangible, but it must be real.
  • Mutuality: This contract term often has two basic meanings. First, there must be a “meeting of the minds.” Both parties must agree to the same terms at the same time. Additionally, both spouses must have roughly equal bargaining power. If only one spouse has a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, mutuality is arguably absent.

Financial terms usually dominate most prenuptial agreements. Commonly, spouses classify property as marital or non-marital. This distinction is not always black and white. In fact, unless the parties have a prenup, property classification and division is usually the most time-consuming part of a divorce case.

Other financial provisions could include spousal support caps. That’s especially true if one spouse is substantially wealthier than the other spouse. Frequently, spousal support caps have stairstep provisions. The longer the marriage lasts, the smaller the cap becomes.

Many prenuptial agreements also contain nonfinancial provisions, specifically with regard to succession and inheritance matters. Children from a first marriage generally have no such rights. The same goes for stepchildren, unless the nonbiological spouse adopts them. Many times, people want to include their biological or stepchildren in these plans. A prenup, usually when combined with a will, might be the only way to accomplish this goal.

Prenuptial agreements cannot cover child custody or child support matters. These decisions must be in the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents.

Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers and Breaking Prenuptial Agreements

Very few contracts are set in stone, and prenuptial agreements are generally no exception. In addition to the technical requirements listed above, there are several other ways for a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer to successfully challenge an unfavorable premarital agreement:

  • Failure to Record: This technicality usually only applies to contracts which affect property rights. Premarital agreements almost always fall into this category.
  • No Separate Counsel: Each spouse must have an independent Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer. An attorney usually cannot represent both spouses in a family law matter, even if they agree to joint representation. Their interests are too adverse.
  • Failure to Disclose Information: This requirement is not as broad as it seems. First, the withheld information must have been material. Lying about a tax debt probably does not affect a property division. Second, the challenging spouse cannot plead ignorance. If the information was available elsewhere, the other spouse probably did not have a duty to disclose it.
  • Unconscionable Division: There is a difference between uneven and unconscionable. 70-30 is uneven, but probably not unconscionable.
  • Involuntary Agreement: The same principles apply here. Pressure to sign, even if it includes a “sign or else” ultimatum, is usually insufficient. But sometimes, the pressure is too much. For example, Wife might spring a prenup on Husband the night before a destination wedding in Barbados.

Most prenuptial agreements in Crow Wing County have severability clauses. So, if a judge invalidates one part because it is unconscionable or whatever, the remainder is still valid.

Reach Out to Diligent Attorneys

Premarital agreements often make marriages last longer and divorces less taxing. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

A Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyer Talks About Grey Divorce

As recently as the 1990s, divorce over 55 was almost unheard of, even though the overall divorce rate was much higher than it is today. Instead, if older couples drifted apart, they usually obtained “Irish divorces.” The spouses remained legally married, but they led separate lives.

Things are different now. Divorce’s moral acceptability rating recently hit an all-time high. Couples who never would have considered divorce in prior years now see marriage dissolution as a legitimate way to end an unsatisfying marriage. And, in 1995, Irish voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing divorce.

Overall, grey divorces involve the same financial and emotional issues as marriage dissolutions in other age groups. But grey divorce issues have a slightly different twist. So, a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer needs a special skill set in order to successfully resolve these matters.

Child Custody Matters

Most couples over 55 no longer have minor children at home. However, grey divorces still often involve child custody matters, usually regarding grandchildren.

Frequently, adult children have a much harder time accepting their parents’ divorce than younger children. Adults are often less emotionally resilient than children. Furthermore, adult children have a lifetime of happy family memories to deal with. Young children might only remember one or two good family Christmases.

So, adult children often blame one of their parents for the divorce. Children often punish the targeted parent by severing emotional contact.

Assume Bill and Joan have a son, Bill Jr., and a grandson, Bill III. Ever since Bill III was born, he usually spent at least one weekend a month and two or three weeks a summer with his grandparents. Bill and Joan divorce after forty years of marriage. Bill Jr. believes that his father’s infidelity caused the breakup. So, he forbids Bill III to see his grandfather.

In many states, Bill Jr. can almost unilaterally sever the bond between Bill III and his grandfather. But Minnesota is different. The Gopher State has a very broad grandparents’ rights law. According to Section 257C, “the court may, upon the request of the parent or grandparent of a party, grant reasonable visitation rights to the unmarried minor child, after dissolution of marriage.” The court will grant reasonable visitation if:

  • Such contact is in the best interests of the child, and
  • The contact does not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

What does this law mean for Bill? Based on his prior relationship with Bill III, continued contact is probably in Bill III’s best interests. One weekend a month and two weeks in the summer would obviously decrease Bill Jr.’s parenting time. But it may or may not “interfere with the parent-child relationship.” That’s a different question.

Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers and Retirement Account Division

Emotional and financial issues are both involved in retirement account divisions.  Emotionally, 401(k)s and other nest eggs represent long-term security. Financially, these accounts are typically one of a family’s largest marital assets.

Minnesota is an equitable division state. All marital property must be divided equitably. Even if only one spouse made financial contributions, retirement accounts are marital property, at least as to the amount of growth during the marriage. There is a presumption that 50-50 is equitable, but a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer can change that proportion based on several factors.

As for the division itself, each plan has its own rules, because each plan has a separate Plan Administrator. But generally, the nonowner spouse may choose one of the following options:

  • Do nothing and receive a proportionate share of future disbursements,
  • Pay a financial penalty and cash out, or
  • Roll the portion into a new tax-deferred account (most nonowner spouses choose this option).

Military retirement accounts are different. Usually, the government only divides these accounts if the servicemember spouse has at least ten years of service and the marriage lasted at least ten years. Even then, only a 50-50 division may be available. In other situations, a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer has other options.

Home Equity Division in a Grey Divorce

Younger people often have little home equity. During the first half of a mortgage loan, most installment payment money goes to prepaid interest. But older couples often have substantial equity. Frequently, it’s best to sell the house and divide the proceeds, both from a financial and emotional standpoint.

Alternatively, one spouse could keep the house and the other spouse could receive an owelty partition lien. That lien is for a proportionate share of the equity. Later, when the remaining owner sells the house, that lien must be paid. A setoff might be appropriate as well. For example, Bill could let Joan keep the house if Joan gives up her half of Bill’s retirement account.

Connect with a Compassionate Attorney

Grey divorces involve special financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

When Can Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorneys Modify Parenting Plans?

Remarriage, onset or removal of disability, and relocation are probably the three most common parenting plan modification triggers in Wright County. The parenting plan modification could involve different time divisions, pickup or dropoff locations, supervision of visitation, or changes to educational, medical, and other provisions concerning the children.

Overall, the requested modification must be in the best interests of the children. Minnesota law sets out a number of factors that judges use to determine a child’s best interests. Buffalo, MN family law attorneys must be mindful of these factors both in court and during settlement negotiations. Wright County judges normally do not approve settlement agreements which do not uphold the child’s best interests.

Threshold for Custody Modification

Threshold issues are things that Buffalo, MN family law attorneys must establish in their pleadings and in a preliminary hearing as well. In order for a judge to consider a motion to modify a parenting plan, all of the following circumstances must be present:

  • Significant Change of Circumstances: This category is rather vague and rather easy for a Buffalo, MN family law attorney to establish. Generally, anything that concerns the child on a daily or ongoing basis is a significant change of circumstances. A parent’s remarriage is a significant chance of circumstances if the new spouse affects the child’s well-being in a substantial way.
  • Recent Change: In a modification procedure, anything which happened prior to the existing order’s entry is irrelevant. That includes supposed parental misdeeds, such as using drugs in the child’s presence. On a related note, the change must have been unanticipated. Children get older, so a child’s age is never a proper basis for modification.
  • Best Interests: There is a difference between the best interests of the child and the child’s preference. There is also a difference between the best interests of the parent and the best interests of the children.

The moving party must establish each threshold issue by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota law.

Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorneys and Supporting Circumstances

In some states, in addition to the aforementioned threshold issues, it is enough to show that the existing parenting time division is unworkable or inappropriate. But Minnesota judges require more. Motons to modify parenting time divisions must rest on one of the following:

  • Interference with Current Parenting Time Schedule: Interference is usually an intentional act. Parents do not accidentally interfere with parenting time provisions. However, a Wright County judge might presume that conduct is intentional if there is repeated misconduct.
  • Endangerment of Physical Health or Emotional Well-Being: This is perhaps the most common basis for modification. Almost anything could impair the child’s emotional development in some way. Parents who cite this basis must also show that the pros outweigh the cons.
  • Both Parties Agree: Many judges approve agreed modifications without holding hearings. For this reason, Buffalo, MN family law attorneys often encourage clients to participate in pre-filing mediation. That way, they can present an agreed order to the judge.
  • Illegal Interstate Move: If a court orders a parent to remain within the state with the child and the parent relocates out of state anyway, that disobedience is an independent basis for parenting time modification. It’s probably also a basis for redesignating the residential and nonresidential parents.

Once again, the moving party must establish these facts by a preponderance of the proof. Imagine two stacks of paper sitting side by side. If someone moves one sheet of paper from the left to the right, the stack on the right is bigger than the one on the left. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.

Talk to an Experienced Lawyer

Parenting time modifications must be in the child’s best interests. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After-hours visits are available.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (612) 800-8057
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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

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Phone: (218) 736-9429
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Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

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Phone: (320) 289-4761
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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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Phone: (952) 260-9640
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