A Family Lawyer’s Wish List

December 15, 2009

By Emily Matson, Family Law Attorney

The company next door to our firm has a large “wish list” on its door. It got me thinking about what I would wish for not only myself, but for our firm and our clients this holiday.

  • A legal administrative assistant to take care of scheduling, filing, and all that good stuff. A small office must make do with the resources it has, but sometimes I miss the structure of a large firm.

  • More money for the Minnesota courts and a right to counsel (also called “Civil Gideon”) in family law.
  • That every parent going through a divorce attend and learn something from the state-required Parenting After Divorce class.
  • For all my unresolved matters to settle so that no one has to pay for the pain of going through a trial.
  • A trip to Portland, Oregon, to visit friends.
  • A new computer to play World of Warcraft faster!

What’s on your wish list?

72-Hour Holds Misused?

December 2, 2009

By Jennifer Moore, Family Law Attorney.

The Police Authority to Detain Individuals

In Minnesota, police have the authority to detain an individual for 72 hours if they are believed to be a threat to themselves or others. Hospitals comply with these administrative holds, because they bring in significant revenue.

Children, Teenagers, and the Handicapped

These holds are often used in cases of domestic violence involving unstable adults or teenagers, but can also be imposed upon disabled children and adults. As the step-mother of a child with disabilities, it has sometimes been difficult to orchestrate the placement of services in a way that protect caregivers as well as my step-son’s freedoms.

As a Family Law Attorney…

As a family law attorney, I have seen 72-hour holds used in cases of domestic violence. The consequences of such a hold is fairly dramatic. Jobs can be lost, relationships with children interrupted, and the “patient” put on a path of treatment and therapy that may preclude the family from a timely resolution of their separation and/or divorce. Sometimes, the danger to the family is obvious; sometimes not. It would be nice to think that authorities would not abuse this process.

Read more in the Star Tribune article, Paramedic: Cops abuse law to detain people.

By Thomas Moore, Family Law Office Manager

The Hennepin County Bar Association here in Minnesota is, obviously, an organization of, by, and for lawyers. I’m no lawyer, I just work for one (or two, or… But that’s a different story!).

Some lessons from a depression era attorney

Anyway, I was recently reading the October 2009 issue of Inside Hennepin Lawyer, the magazine of the Hennepin County Bar Association, and I found an entry entitled: “Of Bugs, Brontosauruses, and Daniel Boone.”   Quite a title, but what really caught my eye is that the two articles here are reprints from 1933. They were written in the depth of the great depression by Mr. Ben Palmer

Old fashioned thinking and the law

The first article is “Daniel Boone on Broadway,” In it Mr. Palmer points out that “Daniel Boon on Broadway is no more of an anachronism than the individual who carries the psychology of the frontier into the cooperative life of today.” We sometimes see this phenomenon in our family law and probate law practices, where someone seems blind to the reality that a divorce involves not just the plaintiff and the respondent but also, any and all children from their union. Their case also involves not just property but also the standard of living of the two sides – and that of the children. I think a law firm should strive to be the most reasonable party in the room – it should defend you, the client, but it should also bear in mind that others – especially the children – also have rights and that the adults have obligations. I think Mr. Palmer is making an important point for all of us

Rugged individualism is not an asset in a lawsuit

In the second article, “The Bug on the Brontosaurus,” Mr. Palmer refers to a nation of “streams of force – economical, social, political, religious – converging on certain focal points… The most romantic libertarian… can only act effectively through those organizations whose general goal coincides with his own heart’s desire. There is no such thing as splendid isolation.” Again, excellent point! In a divorce, child support dispute, child custody lawsuit, as well as in an alimony or probate case, these organizations that can be used for the outcome you seek include the law, the courts, your own attorney, and the opposing party’s lawyer. Otherwise, your case and the outcome you seek, will pass away to become as extinct as the once-mighty brontosaurus.

Read the article! I think you’ll find this wisdom, and much more, in it.

Mr. Palmer concludes that “There is no such thing as splendid isolation… It is adaptability, and not merely strength, that counts.” Again, read the article! Mr. Palmer makes his point with much more grace, and brings to bear much more experience, than can I.

By Jennifer Moore, Family Law Attorney.

I ran across a review for the movie Couples Retreat. The review makes it sound like the movie might not be worth the price of a matinee, but I wholly endorse the concept of marriage counseling.

There really are couples retreats out there that might help a marriage stay together. For example, there is a retreat in Vermont called “Marriage Quest“, and in Sedona, there’s a couples’ retreat called “Sedona Soul Adventures – a place I’d certainly like to go some day!

You don’t need a vacation therapy retreat, though. Marriage counseling with a licensed professional may be just as effective. You can obtain a referral from your family physician or therapist. One local therapist here in Minnesota who offers marriage counseling is Janet Schlegel, located in the northwestern suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

By Jennifer Moore, Family Law Attorney.

The New York Times has compiled a list of big-picture financial considerations you should make during your divorce. Our experience suggests that these are mostly good suggestions, although we do believe that the best way to proceed is with the advice of a lawyer or an attorney, who will be experienced in structuring financial settlements with these concerns in mind.

By Jennifer Moore, Family Law Attorney

When you owe a debt to the government, they may intervene in your divorce to collect. Consider the case of Walter and Caren Forbes, who were married 27 years. Walter was the former chairman of Cendant Corporation, who was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in prison for the largest financial fraud of the 1990’s. When his wife Caren filed for divorce earlier this year, the federal government intervened in the divorce to collect money owed pursuant to an Order of restitution against Walter. The divorce may result in the receipt of billions of dollars in restitution.

Read more in the full article in the Star Tribune.

By Thomas Moore, Office Manager

First of all, my thanks to attorney Steven H Silton, whose article, Counseling Clients in Financial Distress, in the August 2009 issue of Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the inspiration for this blog. Bench & Bar of Minnesota is published by the  Minnesota State Bar Association.

Here’s my personal reaction to what Mr. Silton says in his article. 

The financial crisis, and your personal crisis, is really about what you can do.

The global financial crisis is real and can be a rude awakening to someone who does not pay attention to the economy, or who does and who has, until now, enjoyed prosperity.  In fact, today’s circumstances can be particularly hard on you if you’re used to hard work, success, and success based upon your hard work.  Sometimes it seems that what you’ve done has been for naught.  But, understanding your limits, rethinking your life, and taking a holistic approach to life and work, can help — though nothing can guarantee that your investments, or your marriage, or your social position, or anything else for that matter, will keep on an upward curve.  We are all subject to market forces, nature, and social forces beyond our control.  We have to learn how to learn from failure; and we must learn how to best deal with the psychological and personal aspects of the situation we are in.  

You need experts, carefully selected, to work your way through this.

You should work with professionals, experts, to deal with what you cannot handle on your own.  There is no shame in this.  This could involve an attorney, a financial advisor, a life coach, a realtor, or a therapist.  You have to do your life work and engage others in this work as appropriate.  Getting depressed can be part of this but we have to learn to work through all the aspects of our situation.  To quote Mr. Silton, “Accepting responsibility is one thing, but there is no room for despair in a sinking ship…”  We must focus on how to get through the present crisis and how to build a better future.  Victories in these necessary struggles, instead of avoiding the struggle, are what build confidence and reduce anxiety. 

Stress and strain require you to be careful, ethical, and honorable.

If you are stressed, if those with whom you deal are stressed, you and they are inevitably being pushed in the direction of making distressed, even desperate, decisions.  Someone sinking into apparently hopeless debt and bankruptcy will not always make rational decisions about their finances or about anything else, for that matter.  Many examples could be cited of a party in a divorce who spends what he does not have on his bar tab, his ‘toys,’ and in other ways to avoid thinking about and dealing with what is inevitable.  Be careful in your dealings, guard yourself from those who are not and work at living your life as ethically and as honorably as you can.

Even a Family Attorney Needs a Break!

Take the Kids Camping!

 

This is the last unofficial weekend of summer, and the last chance to take a long weekend camping at any of the many Minnesota State Parks      .    I recommend going to some of the ones further outside the Twin Cities than usual.  I spent a long weekend at the beginning of August at  Bear Head Lake     State Park outside Ely, MN,     the wanna-be-hosts of the    2016 Olympics  .)   

This weekend I’m venturing to  

Upper Sioux Agency State Park, where I plan to hike some trails and kayak some waters.  Favorites in the past have included Gooseberry Falls State Park outside of Duluth, and Sibley State Park, outside Wilmar.

 

State Parks are a great destination for families, small and large.  At Bear Head, our neighbors included a large family reunion with people from all over the five state area.  I enjoyed watching uncles teach nieces to fish, and grandpa argue with son over who snored louder.  State Parks have nice sized campsites, some with electricity for RVs, shower facilities, and well-informed staff that can help you make the most of your time out in the wild.

New Court Filing Fees in Minnesota 

As of July 1, 2009, new filing fees have gone into effect.  While I knew “they” (The courts in Minnesota) were talking about raising rates, I had no idea by how much.  Wow.  

Court Filing Fees in Hennepin County, MN

Filing for dissolution (divorce) in Hennepin County has gone from $332 to $402.  Filing a motion of any kind such as for child custody or in regard to a trust or estate planning legal matter has gone from $55 to $100.  A complete list of Hennepin County filing fees is available online at the Hennepin County website

 Court Fees in All Minnesota Counties

Filing fees vary by county and by type of matter (Family law, divorce, trust and estate, etc).  Check the State of Minnesota website      for the fee for your particular county and matter. 

 Emily M. Matson, Esq.

emily.matson@moorefamilylawMN.com

Moore Family Law

Plymouth, MN

When You Can’t Afford to Hire Attorneys

 

When You Can’t Afford to Hire Lawyers

Typically family attorneys do their fair share of pro bono work, as do lawyers in other areas of practice.  However, from what we can see, some attorneys can only accept a very small number of pro bono legal cases, which meet their specific income and subject matter requirements.  Chances are, you will have better luck going through one of the other pro bono services for your divorce, child custody case, or other family law matter.   

 Free Legal Advice from a Divorce Lawyer

Every family law litigant should have the right to compensated, competent legal representation in court, regardless of income.  However, in these days of reduced court funding, this may not be an attainable goal.  The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota   published an article this week on where to go if your circumstances require you to go into court without an attorney.   Click Here for the link  The article is not exclusively about family law but it does apply to someone seeking divorce attorneys or child custody lawyers as well as other areas of the law in Minnesota

 Hire an Attorney for an Hour or Two

Even if you can’t afford an attorney to represent you in Court, get some legal advice to make sure you are on the right track, even if it means paying for an hour of an attorney’s time to look at your documents.  We hope you find these links useful.

 

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer.Moore@MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Plymouth, Minnesota 

Moore Family Law