Minnesota Budget Cuts Will Impact Courts and Consumers

 Budget Cuts for Minnesota Courts

The news from the Governor’s Desk is quite mixed for the judicial system.  The budget signed into law from Governor Pawlenty did contain some minor budget cuts for the Minnesota Courts.  The Courts were already operating on a very slim budget, so the cuts will affect services.   To minimize the impact on consumers of judicial services, the Courts intend to implement some fairly significant increases in filing fees.  

 

No Sales Tax on Legal Services

Also on the legislative radar this year was the imposition of a sales tax on legal services.  It did not pass.  Such a tax would have presented a great hardship to individuals seeking legal representation.  Not only would the tax have increased every legal bill in Minnesota by the sales tax percentage, but it would have increased overhead for attorneys who are unaccustomed to sales tax reporting and collections.  Overhead is the primary determinant of the price of legal services.  

 

Minnesota Court Funding

Full coverage of the court funding issues in Minnesota is at http://www.1000supporters.org/

Jennifer Moore
Moore Family Law, P.A.
Plymouth, MN
jennifer.moore@moorefamilylawMN.com

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A MN Family Lawyer Talks Candidly About Divorce, a Will, and Estate Planning

 

OK, You Need a Divorce, a Will, or some Estate Planning, but…

This blog is difficult!  Have you ever felt – or been – disappointed and disorganized, dull and depressed?  I have! 

 After mulling this over this not-so-cosmic realization for a while it finally occurred to me that I’ve noticed a few interesting things lately, all of which can be summed up as “we are in crisis.”  Well, some of us, perhaps many of us, are in a crisis.  I don’t see this as basically anyone’s personal failing.  I think the whole society is in a crisis.  This may hit us personally in various ways – we need to change our will, set up a trust for our handicapped or flighty children, we need a divorce or a change in child support payments or alimony.  It hits us in many ways, but it is objective, originating outside of us, and there’s not a lot we can do about the huge changes in our society right now.  But, there are some things we can change for the better. 

 

Legal Problems are Compounded When You Have the Blahs or the Blues

Look, you’re reading this because you’ve found the Moore Family Law blog on the Web and probably because you’re considering divorce, a will, or some other not-necessarily-pleasant life change, right?  If you’re like many of the people we are seeing in our family law practice and in our trusts and estates practice this spring, you are justifiably angry, hurt, or both.  Still, getting your life back on the right track is something you need to do, regardless of how you feel right now and regardless of whatever confusion and indecision you may be feeling right now.

 

So Get Off the Couch and…

May I offer a suggestion?  Leap off the cliff and figure out on the way down how to invent the parachute.  In short, do something, anything that needs to be done, no matter how minor it may be.  Just do something.  It’ll get you off the couch and open up your mind, your will power, and your emotions to tackle the bigger stuff – that divorce or estate plan I mentioned above.

 

Still with me?  I’m talking from experience here.  When I suddenly snap to the fact that I’m watching infomercials, for goodness’ sake, but then get up and do something productive, when I start to get energized, I suddenly discover that I’m more optimistic, active and happy; and I’m  getting things done, too.  The point isn’t that, hey, all that got done was the trash got taken out or the oil changed in the car — big whoop.  Nope, the point is that when you start taking control in any area of your life, the benefits for you are truly global.

 

Once you’ve gotten this far, you can take the occasion S.T.O.P:  Meaning

 

  • Stop what you’re doing
  • Take stock of your situation and the situation outside of yourself
  • Orient yourself in the new situation
  • Proceed

 

But that’s another blog!  
 

The Proof is in The Pudding!


If you’re stuck with some unpleasant task that you really have to do that you don’t want to, that you’re afraid of failing in, that you don’t understand – do it anyway.  The fact that you realize that you have a problem is proof that you can find a solution to it; and the fact that you are doing something positive is part of that solution.

 

Have a great day!

 

I’m Tom Moore, the office manager at Moore Family Law.  We hope you find this blog amusing – and informative.  You can contact Moore Family Law at:

 

3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C

Plymouth, MN  55447

mfl@MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Come back and visit our blog, or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office  at 763-951-7330

 

 

TIMES ARE TOUGH – Discussed by a Minnesota Family Attorney

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has read / watched / talked about the economy this past weekend and gone, “Yikes!”  Times are tough! This puts the emphasis on being very flexible, very opportunistic as it were, about how you stretch your precious few dollars and still get done what has to get done.  We find people faced with this every day in our family law practice.

BARTER

Remember the story about Abraham Lincoln, who took various items in trade for legal services?  True story!  I could also tell you a story about how my mother paid for her first baby’s delivery by selling her cow Becky.  Turned out she, and the baby, were quite happy with the results of the trade.  The point is, if there’s a service you really need, and you are short on money, find someone you may be able to make a trade with, and make an offer to them.  I wouldn’t expect the IRS to take a cow in trade (whether named Becky or not) but perhaps a solo lawyer, your accountant, or small practitioner would take some work on their house or office or car or home computer.  Try it!  And, be ready to be flexible. 

BARGAIN

Many of us are not good at this at all, except maybe during port time on a vacation cruise.  The point here, I think is to go for not the cheapest but the best you can afford.  I know of one family who always got everything the cheapest when they built a garage behind their house.  They spent a lot of time in the courts trying to get recovery from the fly by night contractor who swindled them, *and* the garage leaked, too.   Use your brain!  If, for example, you’re bargaining for a lawyer and the cheap one has to look up everything in a book before he answers you, while the higher priced one knows the law already… you may be better off with the “more expensive” attorney since she has a better chance of actually accomplishing what you want.

CUT BACK

OK, I’m preaching motherhood and apple pie here, but cut back cut back cut back.  More than a few people we know have discovered the parsimonious joys of shopping at that really bare bones – and small! – Grocery store chain.  What applies to groceries applies to much of what we need in life.  Yes we have to give up variety and some expensive favorites but if the alternative is between living parsimoniously or living on an ever increasing credit card balance, I for one would choose parsimony.

 DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

Anticipation of a dire situation is often worse than the situation itself.  Someone once wrote that the fact that there is a problem means that the elements are already present in the situation, for a solution.  You just have to dig it out.  For myself, I find that doing *something* — provided I’ve put some thought into its appropriateness – is better than doing nothing.  And, if after consideration, nothing is what you are compelled to do, that can work too.

DO SWEAT THE BIG STUFF

Family, friends, your own dignity and honesty.  THIS *stuff* is well worth paying attention to; and making sure that even if at the cost of some short run advantages, there are principles you can stick to. 

Please come back to our blog as we discuss more topics about Family Law and the economy.  You can visit our website, or give Moore Family Law a call 763-951-7330, if you have questions that you need answered.  We would be happy to assist you.

BUDGET CUTS

 

Article XI of the Minnesota Constitution prohibits the State from running a deficit.

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cco/rules/mncon/Article11.htm  When tax revenues are significantly lower than expected, the State must cut spending or raise taxes in order to balance the budget. 

 

Over the past couple of years, family law attorneys have observed some significant changes in the Courts as budgets have tightened.  Hennepin County Family Court’s offices are closed on Wednesday afternoons.

Family Court Services can no longer perform custody evaluations except in the most limited circumstances.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that Courts are less willing to grant fee waivers than in the past. 

 

Chief Justice Eric Magnuson has stated that if the Court does not receive an addition $43,000,000 in funding out of the state budget for courts, many cases will not be processed.  Of particular interest to family law attorneys, it is likely that harassment cases will not be processed, which could have implications for safety in cases of domestic violence.  Here is a link to an article discussing the problem.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/01/14/chief_justice_courts_need_an_additional_43_million/

 

In these tough economic times, it is even more important to have qualified family law attorneys on your side.  It’s not just about winning your case.  Sometimes, it’s about ensuring that you receive due process in a Court system that has few resources to provide it.  And sometimes, it’s getting sound advice to ensure your safety in the midst of a volatile family situation.

 

Jennifer Moore

Moore Family Law, P.A.

3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C

Plymouth, MN 55447

(763) 951-7330

Fax:  (866) 354-3531

jennifer.moore@moorefamilylawMN.com