June 8, 2009

Buckle Up, Minnesota, Buckle Up! 

(With a tip of our cap to “Buckle Down Winsocki, Buckle Down” lyrics:  http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/bestfootforward/buckledownwinsocki.htm )

 Safety First…

Beginning June 9, 2009, you can be stopped by a police officer if you do not have your seatbelt on.  This is a change, because in the past, police could only stop you if you committed some other violation in addition to a seatbelt violation.    http://www.startribune.com/local/47145682.html?elr=KArksUUUU

 And, Avoiding Problems in a Divorce Child Custody Dispute 

While I do not think it is a major crime not to wear a seatbelt, I have seen significant family law litigation over the failure to use seatbelts or car seats for children.  Often, the newly single parent does not have the means to purchase a car seat, or their cars are in poor repair.   Here is a guide to Hennepin County resources to assist parents in obtaining the proper safety restraints:  http://www.buckleupkids.state.mn.us/Hennepin%20County%20Guide%202005.pdf.  It is worth a little hassle to avoid custody litigation.

 Jennifer Moore
www.MooreFamilyLawMN.com

Plymouth, MN
jennifer.moore@moorefamilylawMN.com

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Why a Depressed Market is not ALWAYS Bad in a Divorce

Divorce provides an economic opportunity for some individuals to start fresh with a pile of cash.  Maybe the pile is not quite as high as it could have been, but your buying power might be greater, too.  For example, the foreclosure crisis has created an unprecendented opportunity to obtain value for investment.  Bargain hunting is also possible in the stock market.  It is entirely possible that you can buy more long term investment vehicles with a smaller divorce settlement than you could have in the inflated market two or three years ago. 

Your divorce attorney is almost certainly not a financial advisor.  When your divorce atterney begins to discuss posssible outcomes for your case, it is time to consult with your financial advisor.  You may want to ask your financial advisor to meet with you and your divorce attorney to help you develop a plan of action.

In the meantime, if you find yourself find yourself somewhat panicked by the recession, you might want to read the following piece from the Boston Globe from last year,  http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/03/23/the_good_recession/.  I found it to be quite thought provoking!

Jennifer Moore
Moore Family Law, P.A.
Plymouth, Minnesota

 

The economy is affecting everyone in one way or another.  Even if you still have your job, you might be having a hard time making the house payment.  Even if you still have your house, you might be having a hard time buying groceries.  Something is getting cut along the way for everyone, and sometimes this has a greater impact than you might originally expect.

 

Minnesota Court Budgets

In the Court system, the situation is the same.  The budget that the Courts need and the budget that the Courts get are two different things, and the Courts have to make decisions about where to cut back.  Articles in the publications, including http://mnbar.org/benchandbar/2008/dec08/court.html  in “Minnesota Bench & Bar” and http://www.growthandjustice.org/Fewer_clerks_shorter_hours_Budget_cuts_slow_wheels_of_justice.html in “Growth and Justice”, have addressed the problems facing the Courts.  The Court websites themselves have posted bulletins about the budget cuts’ impact http://www.mncourts.gov/district/4/?page=3278  and how funding cuts threaten public safety http://www.courts.state.mn.us/district/0/?page=NewsItemDisplay&item=44518

 

The Impact on Family Law in Minnesota

The impact of the budget cuts on your family law matter could include the following:

  • Delay in filing matters and scheduling hearings and trials.
  • Delay due to lack of law clerks and court administrators to handle the work, and potentially less informed judicial officers.
  • Delay in filing due to courts being closed on Wednesday afternoons.
  • Lack of services such as arbitration and appointments of Guardians ad Litem.

 

Until the economy turns around and more money is available for Court services, you should expect a longer delay in having your family matter resolved.  Consider hiring an attorney help guide you through the process and explain the frustrating delays to help you through this difficult time. 

 

Emily M. Matson, Esq.

www.moorefamilylawMN.com

emily.matson@moorefamilylawmn.com

MN Family Law Attorney Discusses Alimony

Is $53,000 Per Week Too Much Alimony?

The wife of United Technologies Chairman George David is claiming that she requires an award of temporary maintenance (alimony) to cover her basic weekly expenses of $53,000.  http://www.nypost.com/seven/12192008/news/nationalnews/really_high_maintenance_144934.htm  That is $2,756,000 per year.   It’s hard to put your head around that kind of money, especially if you are the one being asked to pay alimony. 

 

In fact, in Minnesota maintenance (commonly referred to as alimony) is awarded based on a number of factors, including the standard of living during marriage.   In order to decide whether to award maintenance and the amount of an award of maintenance, both husband and wife will submit proof of their income and a proposed monthly budget.   The Court then balances the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance against the ability of the other spouse to pay.   

 

How About Zero Dollars per Week Alimony?

Not all cases warrant an award of maintenance. Sometimes, the marriage is not sufficiently long such that the spouse seeking maintenance has become accustomed to a higher standard of living or has lost opportunities to be self-supporting.  Sometimes, the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance are not sufficient to justify an award of maintenance.  And sometimes, there is no ability to pay.

 

Maintenance is a highly contentious issue.  In cases where maintenance is an issue, there is a much higher probability of going to trial and having a judge decide the case.  Unless a monthly budget is accompanied by solid supporting evidence, such as receipts, cancelled checks or other documentary evidence, it is likely that a Judge will red-line the budget, substituting his or her own judgment for the parties’.  $53,000 per week is likely to sound too high, even if it is consistent with the standard of living during the marriage.  

 

Similarly, if the Court must examine income information, the Court is likely to base its judgment on historical information, even though today’s economic reality might indicate that historical data is overly inflated. 

 

Your Attorney’s Job in a Divorce / Maintenance Case

The attorney’s job in a maintenance case is to give the Court less reason to disagree with your judgment about your needs and resources.  

 

 

Jennifer Moore

jennifer.moore@moorefamilylawMN.com

Moore Family Law, P.A.

www.moorefamilylawMN.com

3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C
Plymouth, MN 55447
(763) 951-7330

MN Family Attorneys On Child Custody

 

Child Custody and the People You Will Meet

When you are facing a tough custody battle, either as part of a divorce or not, there are many professionals who may be assigned, appointed, or hired to help you and the other parent figure out what is in the best interest for your children.  The following is a brief overview of some of the professionals who may be involved.  Every case is distinct, and there are many factors that go into whether a particular professional may or even can be involved in your case. 

 

Guardian ad Litem

If the court is concerned about the children based on some allegations of abuse or some other serious factor, it may order a Guardian ad Litem be appointed.  A Guardian ad Litem is someone who works for the county government and is trained to interview, observe, communicate, and make recommendations about the best interest of the children in a case.  They are the ones who speak for the children, and have a lot of influence in how the case will be viewed by the court. 

 

Custody Evaluator

There are many professionals that may be hired as a custody evaluator to help the parties and the court determine the best custody arrangement for the children.  These are often private practice attorneys or psychologists with an expertise in this field.  However, Hennepin County Family Court offers an Early Neutral Evaluation program that is a free service ordered early on in a case to help the parties attempt to work out their differences in a setting similar to a full evaluation.  If parties do not come to an agreement at the end of this process, however, the next step may be to hire a private Custody Evaluator. 

 

Parenting Time Expeditor

The court may order a parenting time expeditor be appointed to help the parties with their parenting time plan or unforeseen circumstances not addressed by earlier agreement.  An expeditor is empowered by the court to make decisions on behalf of the court.  The cost of the expeditor is paid for by the parties. 

 

Parenting Time Consultant

The parties themselves outside of the court may make an agreement to hire a parenting time consultant (although this agreement can be memorialized in a settlement agreement put on the record with the court).  A consultant does not have the legal authority of an expeditor, but is generally given more free rein to deal with the broader scope of situations that may arise in parenting and custody disputes.

 

Emily M. Matson, Esq.

Moore Family Law, P.A.

www.moorefamilylawMN.com

3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C

Plymouth

Phone:  763-951-7330

emily.matson@moorefamilylawmn.com