The Minnesota Best Interest Factors – What Will Happen In My Custody Case in Anoka County?

January 23rd, 2017

There are two types of custody in Minnesota. Legal custody is generally the right to determine how your child is raised in regard to education, health care and religion. Physical custody means the daily care and control of the child. In a divorce case where there are minor children, or in a custody case when the parents were never married, the court will determine the custody of the minor children.

Of course, the court will only have to decide the custody of the minor children if the parents are unable to reach an agreement on their own. Generally, the Judge will make it clear at the Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC) that it is preferable for the parents to decide what will happen to their children in a divorce or custody case. At the ICMC, the Judge will also determine whether the parties are agreeable to participating in social early neutral evaluation (SENE) during which issues related to custody and parenting time are addressed. At an SENE usually one male and one female evaluator will sit down with the parties and their attorneys to see if, despite the parent’s differences with one another, they can come to an agreement on how they will raise their child or children together.

Sometimes the parties are unable to reach an agreement at the SENE but it helps to narrow the issues and they keep working toward settlement. Pretrial is another time to attempt to reach an agreement prior to going to trial and having the Judge decide who will have custody of the children and how much parenting time will be awarded to each party.

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they will present their case to a Judge at a trial. At trial, the parties will present evidence concerning “The Best Interest Factors” which are articulated in Minnesota Statute 518.17. These are the twelve (12) factors that the court will consider including the history and nature of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child; the willingness of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time. Any special needs of a child will be considered and any physical, mental, or chemical health issue of a parent that affect the child’s safety or development will be examined. It is recommended that any party in a custody case review the complete list of best interest factors found in the statute so that they understand what factors the court will consider in their case. Of course, it is also extremely important to consult an attorney to guide you through this process!

What is the Divorce Process in Anoka County?

November 23rd, 2016

Divorce is hard. It is generally not a pleasant time in a person’s life. There is a lot of uncertainty about the future for both parties. It is helpful to ease the stress of a divorce by understanding the process itself and what it entails.

Generally, the first step in getting your divorce process started is meeting with a divorce attorney. During that meeting your attorney will want to gather some information about your marriage and family and will likely have you complete an Intake form. If you decide to hire the attorney, he or she will ask you to gather certain records that will help the attorney to prepare your case.

The first task your attorney will accomplish is drafting the Summons and Petition for Dissolution. These documents are required to be served upon your spouse to initiate the divorce process. Once service is accomplished, your spouse will be given thirty (30) days to serve an Answer, and possibly a Counter-Petition (a document outlining what relief your spouse is requesting in the divorce).

Next, the case is filed in district court. Shortly thereafter, the parties will receive notice of what is called the Initial Case Management Conference (“ICMC”). This is essentially the first hearing that the parties will have in court. The Judge will explain the process to the parties and will determine what type of Alternative Dispute Resolution the parties will participate in. In general, there are two alternatives. The first is Early Neutral Evaluation (“ENE”) and the second is Mediation.

In a social ENE, there are two evaluators, usually one male and one female. The ENE is usually scheduled within a couple weeks of the ICMC. The parties, and their attorneys, go to meet with the evaluators. Generally, the evaluators want to hear directly from the parties and allow both spouses to speak about the contested issues, such as custody and parenting time, and explain why their position is the best. At the end of the session, the evaluators give the parties and their attorneys their opinion on how the contested issues could be resolved. If the parties do not reach an agreement at ENE, the evaluators report to the court that no agreement was reached and the matter will proceed in court.

After ENE, the matter will be set for pretrial. This is a hearing in front of the Judge assigned to your case. It is an opportunity to settle the case prior to trial. If the case cannot be settled then the Judge will set the matter for trial.

Of course a trial is the last step in the process. A very small percentage of cases actually go to trial but it is sometimes necessary. There is no right to a jury trial in a divorce case and the issues are tried to the Judge. The attorneys will submit a proposed Order after the trial and the Judge will decide the issues.

Grandparents Rights in Child Custody Cases

January 19th, 2010

Grandparents will usually play an important role in the upbringing of a child. They are often on the bench at soccer games; they often give the best gifts on birthdays; and they are often the first people the parents will call when they need a cheap babysitter for the night.

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Who Gets the Dog? Dividing Personal Property

January 19th, 2010

One of the hardest parts about going through a divorce is dividing all personal property including furniture, material good, family pets and ‘stuff’ in the house. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It is best to come to an agreement where both parties do not devote too much time, money and emotion to splitting up the property.

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Real Estate Dilemmas in Divorce

January 19th, 2010

In many divorce situations, it is in the best interests of both partners to sell the house that they have lived in together and split the profit. That way there are no large payouts and no emotional conflicts with who gets to keep the house. Instead, both spouses are free to move forward and seek accommodation separately. However, despite what real estate agents suggest, now is not the best time to sell your house. Prices are down in the housing market which means you are most likely going to lose out. In some instances, you may actually end up paying less than the mortgage balance.

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Out of State Moves and Child Custody Cases

January 19th, 2010

In the event of a divorce, it is common for one spouse to move out of the house and start again. However, in some instances, one spouse will choose to not only move to a different suburb, but to move out of state. They may have family in another state; they may have been offered a job in another state; or they may simply want to start again somewhere that does not remind them of the messy divorce. In the event of an out of state move when children are involved, the Minnesota laws can get a little complicated.

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Child Support for a New Decade

January 19th, 2010

Child support is always a touchy subject. Child support used to be calculated by taking the non-custodial parent’s net income and basing the amount of child support each month on a certain percentage of net income. This number will depend on the number of children being supported.

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