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Minnesota Family Law FAQs
Minnesota family law lawyers, Minnesota family law attorneys

Family Law Index

What does it mean when a divorce is called "No Fault?"

In the not so distant past, under the family law statutes in Minnesota divorces could only be granted for specified reasons such as infidelity or abandonment. This resulted in much highly emotional family law litigation that pitted one spouse against another with each painting the other as the "bad guy." Most states have eliminated fault from it’s statutes. Currently, for a divorce to be granted there must only be an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

What if I don't Want the Divorce?

Under Minnesota's family law statutes, you may ask your spouse to attend counseling. However, you cannot force that person to attend counseling or to cooperate. If your spouse refuses, the divorce will move forward. In most counties, a Judge will grant a divorce if one party believes that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists.

Once a divorce has been filed, it is important to promptly address the issues. Delay and foot dragging may impair your rights and result in an order requiring you to pay your spouse’s attorney’s fees if the Court finds that you have unreasonably contributed to the length and delay of the proceedings.

Should I file for Divorce First?

There is very little advantage to filing your Minnesota family law case first. One possible advantage is the ability to choose the Minnesota county in which the case is filed. Where the parties have established two separate residences there may be two potential jurisdictions. Your attorney may have insight into the subtle biases of each county and the different processes used allowing him./her to choose a the more favorable forum.

When is a child old enough to decide where he/she wants to live?

In most states, a child can never decide where he or she will live. Minnesota family law statutes are no exception. Instead, a determination with regard to physical custody is made based on what is in the child’s "best interests." Certainly the child’s wishes may be considered as part of that analysis and as the child matures that opinion carries greater weight.

At the time of my divorce, I was ordered to pay alimony. Since then, my ex has doubled his/her salary. Must I continue to pay alimony?

If a Court order requires payment of alimony, the alimony may only be terminated when the Court issues another order terminating the obligation. Generally, this may be accomplished by filing a Motion seeking a termination (or in the alternative, a reduction) of alimony. The motion is usually supported by an affidavit describing for the court the financial circumstances at the time alimony was awarded contrasted with the current circumstances. If there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of the parties, the alimony may be reduced or eliminated.

My ex hid assets during the discovery phase of my divorce. New facts have come to light. What can I do?

A divorce decree may be reopened with regard to the division of assets if is determined that assets were not fraudulently concealed. If a determination is made that fraud has occurred, the Court will often punish the party concealing the assets by awarding the asset to the other party and/or awarding attorneys fees. Generally, as part of the discovery process each party signs disclosures under oath indicating that they have disclosed all marital assets. These disclosures may take the form of Interrogatory Answers or Sworn Statements as to Assets and Liabilities.

I think my child support is too high. How do I get it lowered?

In order to reduce your child support, you must bring the matter before the Court by filing a Motion with supporting affidavits which demonstrate that a substantial change has occurred in your financial circumstances. It is important to remember that, in most states, child support cannot be lowered retroactively. As a result, you must file your motion as soon as a change occurs in your finances.

My ex wants to move out of state with my children. Do I have any rights, or can he/she just take my children away from me?

State statutes generally require that the custodial parent must reach an agreement with the other parent or seek court permission by filing a motion before regarding relocating with the child out of state. If a Court agrees to allow the relocation, the visitation schedule and payment of costs related to visitation are also likely to be modified to reflect the changed circumstances. This may result in longer periods of visitation for the non-custodial parent in the summers, holidays and during school breaks.

My ex recently quit his job and is seeking to reduce child support and alimony payments. Can he do this?

Imputation of income is a harsh result where the Court requires a party to pay spousal maintenance (or child support) based on earning capacity rather than true income. For example, if one party quits a job and reduces his/her income voluntarily or if a party fails to seek gainful employment though able-bodied, the Court may base that person’s income on earning capacity. Oftentimes, the person’s prior work history plays a pivotal role in determining what they have the ability to earn.

The Court may determine that imputation of income is not appropriate where the unemployment or underemployment:

  1. is temporary and will ultimately lead to an increase in income; or
  2. represents a bona fide career change that outweighs the adverse effect of that parent's diminished income on the child."

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Recommended reading

How to Be a Great Divorced Dad

The Divorce Dad's Survival Book

Live-Away Dads
Staying a part of your children's lives

Still A Dad
"The Divorced Father's Journey"

The Child Custody Book : How to Protect Your Children and Win Your Case.

Divorce Casualties : Protecting You Children.

Sharing the Children : How to Resolve...
How to Resolve Custody Problems and Get on With Your Life

Child Custody : Building Parenting Agreements that Work

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Any information contained on this site is general in nature. You should not rely on any articles, postings or other information on these pages as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. If you are in need of legal advice concerning a particular matter, you are encouraged to contact an attorney in your state.

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