By Jennifer Moore, Family Law Attorney

As part of your divorce, you may have decided to change your name. If so, there are several steps you should take after your divorce becomes final. Your first step should be to obtain a certified copy of your Judgment and Decree from the Court Administrator. Then, you will want to do the following:

  1. Notify the Social Security Administration.
  2. Obtain a new driver’s license or state identification card.
  3. Change your name on all bank and investment accounts and your safe deposit boxes.
  4. Change your name on all credit cards.
  5. Notify all of your creditors.
  6. Notify your utility companies.
  7. Change your passport.
  8. File a change of address with the post office.
  9. Change your car titles and registration.
  10. Notify insurance companies.
  11. Notify your employer and any retirement or pension accounts.
  12. Notify friends, relatives and co-workers.
  13. Change your email address if it contains your married name.
  14. Notify places where you have memberships and subscriptions, such as the public library, health club, or Netflix.
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High Net Worth?

Get Divorced Now

 

The January 2009 issue of the ABA Journal (American Bar Association www.abajournal.com  ) contains an interesting and relevant article for our high net worth readers, written by Eleanor Breitel Alter.

 

With thanks to Ms. Alter, here is my take on her article.

 

Ms. Alter, who practices in New York City, cites her own experience of getting a steady stream of high-net-worth divorce clients starting from the time Lehman Brothers failed in September of last year.  From a rational viewpoint, this makes sense:  divorcing when your net worth is down means that you will have less to divide up with your soon-to-be ex, and it means disencumbering yourself when you have major concerns regarding finances, life style, career, and children. 

 

At the same time, faltering markets, unsure markets, down markets all force your hand.  The article cites increased reappraisal of assets and increased scrutiny of values during the divorce proceedings.  Where I office, we are finding increased litigation as spouses do battle over who will get the house that’s under water, the summer cabin that can’t be sold, and the retirement and investment funds they both fear will be worth, in round numbers, zero.  Now can be a good time to quantify these potential losses, come to grips with them, and move on.

 

Furthermore, Ms. Alter points out, there are clients with large incomes and expenditures just as large, at best.  More than one family has been maintaining a certain life style on a deficit, and the consequences of being wedded to a spendthrift, or of being one, are usually painful.  Our experience here in Minnesota bears this out.  We are finding that all the above can combine for a more complex, harrowing, and expensive divorce.

 

Which brings us to another of Ms. Alter’s points — and a hopeful one:  these conditions can also be motivation for both sides of the divorce to work together to come up with a rational, fair, and less traumatic, divorce.  Often, decrees are negotiated with an eye to renegotiating them again when economic and personal conditions change in the future, reducing the complexity and expense of trying to predict what is inherently unpredictable.  It’s up to you.

 

All of which we hope is food for thought.

 

Thomas Moore

Office Manager

Moore Family Law, P.A.

 

Our web site:

www.moorefamilylawMN.com

 

Our email:

mfl@moorefamilylawMN.com

Smiles are Optional

At Your Divorce Trial

 

Divorce Trial?  Who does that?

 

Most family law cases settle long before a divorce trial, but in a small minority of cases, clients find themselves preparing for a trial in divorce court.   You may think your case is too simple for a trial, but a divorce involves summing up all the lives of any given family.  These issues can be complex, and if the family doesn’t agree on what is fair and equitable, much less the basic facts, there will have to be a trial.

 

What Happens During a Divorce Trial?

 

Divorce trials are heard by judges, not by juries.   There may be short opening statements, although they are often waived.  Various people will testify about the case, including the parties and experts (such as custody evaluators, real estate appraisers, actuaries, forensic accountants, and therapists).  In some cases, friends, neighbors, relatives and teachers may be called to testify.   Documents about your financial situation and any other issue will be given to the Judge to help him or her decide the issues in the case. 

 

Once both parties have had the opportunity to present witnesses and exhibits to the Judge, the Court will ask for closing arguments.  In family court, these are often done in writing in the form of proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment and Judgment and Decree.   This is where the attorneys summarize the case and ask the Court to decide a particular way. 

 

What Doesn’t Happen During a Divorce Trial?

 

There is rarely an “Aha! I’ve got you!” moment.  There will be cross-examination, but the Court is not impressed with courtroom theatrics.  What might be a relevant admission to one spouse will probably not impress the Court.  I have witnessed attorneys spend hours grilling a wife about the fact that her expenses will decrease when her children leave home in five or six years.  Honestly, I think time might have been better spent talking about the wife’s current needs and the wife’s current income, since maintenance can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances.  Similarly, Minnesota does have no-fault divorce, so testimony about infidelity and other misconduct are not relevant in the vast majority of cases.

 

A Winning Strategy for Divorce Court

 

The best strategy is to appear more reasonable than the other side.  Logic and reason are valued by the legal profession (judges included), even in the midst of the difficult emotions presented in family court.  Anger and hostility are understandable, but will not win a case.  Smiles are optional – but they can help!

 

Jennifer Moore
Moore Family Law, P.A.
(763) 951-7330
www.moorefamilylawMN.com

jennifer.moore@moorefamilylawMN.com

Death and Divorce are Traumatic

 

OK, here you are seeking a divorce, or planning for the death or disability of yourself or a loved one.  You seek out an attorney to handle the divorce, trust or estate.  This is an emotionally charged time for you and your family.  We understand.  Many family law clients are angry, often but not always justifiably so.  Divorce, child custody, child support, property settlement, and alimony are hard topics.  So are probating a will, drawing up a will, crafting the estate plan you want for yourself or your loved one.  No wonder people get angry!

 

 

Not every good lawyer gets every client mad, but a really good lawyer can actually get you more annoyed, not less!  Why?  Because they’re good, that’s why. How do I know?  Look, I’m only the office manager at a small family law firm.  But I have survived a divorce, I’ve taken people to court over civil matters, and I‘m the fly on the wall when the lawyers in the office make legal decisions. 

 

 

What I notice is a lot of difficult communication.  We have attorneys because the law is complex, changing and can be unpredictable in its outcomes.   The law has been around for centuries — and it shows!

 

There are rules and regulations and laws the ordinary person cannot be expected to know about and who can be expected to have a difficult time grasping.  There are doctrines in the law that are so much a part of everything that lawyers and courts do that it can be a culture shock to you, the client, when you find out about them.  For instance in Minnesota family court fairness – not victory — is the point of the proceedings.  Family courts in Minnesota are a really bad place to get revenge.  You can get justice regarding your divorce, alimony, child support, child custody, the division of marriage property, yes; but these are based upon fairness to all parties concerned, especially the children.  You cannot expect the court to base their decisions solely upon your case and especially not on your feelings.  The courts and the laws are required to balance the needs of all parties concerned.

 

 

What a Real Divorce or Trusts and Estates Lawsuit is NOT!

 

If a lawyer is really good, she or he will do things you never thought possible, necessary, or sufficient for your case.  Let me break this down.  First, here are a few examples of what will not happen:

 

*             A real case is not heard in a courtroom resembling “Judge Judy,”

“Law and Order” or “Boston Legal.”  Emotions don’t win cases. Facts, a winning strategy, and understanding and applying the law wins your case.

*             You won’t see someone on the other side break down and jump up

shouting from the witness chair, “Yes, I did it!  I did it!  I lied, lied about everything and I’m glad do you hear me, glad!!!”  Nope, that’

s not going to happen. 

  

*             A real case, especially one in Minnesota regarding family law

(divorce, alimony, child custody, child support, etc.) or one involving trusts and estate (Trusts, estate planning, probate, legacy planning,

etc.)  – is most probably not a celebrity case.  It will not involve a phalanx of attorneys on either side and it will not involve a barn full of evidence and a courtroom full of perky, quirky and technical expert witnesses who work in those really futuristic crime labs like you see on

CSI:  Miami!.

 

*             Your case, with a good lawyer, will probably involve fewer

witnesses, fewer exhibits and less time and emotion, and quite possibly

more money, than you think necessary.   

 

 What a Competent, Caring Family Law or Trusts and Estates Attorney Will Do

 

How come?  Well, here are some examples of what I think a good lawyer would do.

 

*             A good attorney will bear in mind where he or she is practicing

law.  We practice law in Minnesota.  Not only does that involve knowing Minnesota law, it involves knowing what judges here tend to like, and dislike, what the case law is, what juries like, and dislike, and so on.

 

For instance, Hennepin county juries do not usually award large dollar settlements for anything.  

 

*             A good attorney will charge you what they are worth, because a

good attorney has to pay for research, computers, office staff, think time, writing time, and so on.  You get what you pay for.  This does not mean your bill will be astronomical, but it also does not mean you want to retain the cheapest attorney, or that you can make a decision based on hourly rates alone.

 

 

*             A good attorney will carefully craft a strategy and tactics for

the case that will not only be designed to bring you justice but will also be designed to bring you the justice you can afford.  Let me be clear – you may be able to get a settlement more favorable than might ordinarily be expected, but doing so will almost certainly cost you more time, anguish, money, and work than if you get a good, but not astronomical settlement – one you can afford to pay for.

 

 

*             A good attorney who knows the family law and probate courts here

in Minnesota, will present the most telling argument, the most telling strategy, the most telling evidence, in your case.  She or he will not necessarily present all of the evidence you have helped gather and paid your attorney to gather.  Courts do not necessarily need to hear the same conclusion propped up in all sorts of different ways.  The courts are usually most impressed by a tight, cogent and brief argument which they can assume is your best argument.

 

 *            A good attorney won’t just throw affidavits, evidence, and

arguments at your case.  She or he will work to get the sharpest, most relevant argument winnowed out of the mass of emotions and data and paperwork involved.  

 

I hope you have found this informative.  I’m Tom Moore, the office manager at Moore Family Law.  You can reach us at:

 

 

 

Moore Family Law, P.A.

www.MooreFamilyLawMN.com <http://www.moorefamilylawmn.com/>

 

3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C

Plymouth, MN  55447

(763) 951-7330

 

mfl@MooreFamilyLawMN.com <mailto:mfl@MooreFamilyLawMN.com>

 

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.

Parenting and Divorce

January 21, 2009

A New Parenting Time Guideline for Minnesota
 Jennifer Moore here, from Moore Family Law. 

 

 We are located in Plymouth, MN.  We serve clients throughout Minnesota, with the bulk of our family law practice being in Hennepin County and Wright County including the cities of Plymouth, Maple Grove, and Champlin.

 

This week, I want to address your attention an important Minnesota Supreme Court publication. A Parental Guide to Making Child-Focused Parenting Time Decisions (http://www.mncourts.gov/documents/0/Public/Court_Information_Office/PARENTING_TIME_PAMPHLET.pdf) is used by Courts all over Minnesota to assist it in educating parents about parenting amidst conflict. Many of my clients experience great difficulty in parenting during a divorce. They allow the conflict between the parents to leak into the parent-child relationship.

 

At Moore Family Law, we believe that the best way for you to protect your interests during a custody battle is to follow the guidance of the Courts. Do not discuss adult matters with children. Try to be positive about your children’s relationship with the other parent, even if, on the inside, you believe that the other parent is satan incarnate. Be flexible in the face of the other parent’s crazy behavior. Keep your cool. Think about your children’s needs.

 

MOORE FAMILY LAW

I’m Jennifer Moore of Moore Family Law in Plymouth, Minnesota. Our legal practice encompasses trusts, estate law and probate as well as family law. But the holidays present a special challenge for families that are going through a divorce, a process which often brings with it disputes over emotional hurts, property, child support and alimony, custody and visitation.

DIVORCE AND HOLIDAYS DO NOT MIX

I advise my clients to try to put matters involving family law “on hold” during the peak of the holidays. It’s not just that the children need to be protected from the divorce during the holidays. The parents do, as well.

During a divorce, you may find yourself more emotional, clumsy or forgetful, and not quite yourself. The holidays bring the stress of a heavy social calendar, added expenses, and interactions with helpful family and friends. Nothing good can come from adding a divorce proceeding to this combination of stressors.

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW

Divorce attorneys routinely experience a December slump and a January surge, especially regarding divorce matters. We’re no different here at Moore Family Law, but there are steps you can take now that will get you ready for January. You can start gathering your financial documents. Make copies of tax returns. Get current pension / retirement account statements. Collect your bank statements for the last 2-3 years. Run a credit report. Open your own bank account at a bank other than the one you use for joint finances.

Schedule an appointment with a therapist, for some “fun-for-me time,” or at a spa.

Schedule a face-to-face consultation with us at our offices in Plymouth, MN, just so you know what you can expect if you do decide to act in January. Our consultations take about an hour, they are usually free of charge, and we will be glad to help you in this joyful yet difficult season.

WE WISH YOU THE BEST

Moore Family Law: Advocating Your Family’s Future

A Community of Trust

Moore Family Law works hard and long and carefully to build a community of trust with you, the Court, and the opposing party.  Trust is based upon:

  • Achieving results:  In some cases it’s necessary to give in on small points in order to prevail on large ones.  Sometimes you must accept temporary hardships in order to achieve the best results later on.  We work on your case under your direction; based on a strategy and a legal theory designed to do you justice in whatever conflict or problem you are involved in:  divorce, child custody battle, alimony and support payments. We will explain to you what we are doing and why and we will help you past the rough patches and complexities.

 

In our estate planning practice, we are versed in the powerful techniques of incapacity planning, wealth transfer planning and beneficiary protection. We are equipped to deal with the most straightforward estate plan as well as complex legacy planning involving the handicapped, a blended family, your will, trusts, durable powers of attorney and health care directives.  It’s a new and complex world in estate planning and we are well equipped to guide you through life’s transitions.

  

  • Acting with integrity:  If we cannot help you we will say so.  If what you want from us is not possible for us to deliver, we will tell you.  We will also work to provide you the best family law and estate planning legal advice of which we are capable.

 

  • Caring:  We know that you, our client, may be upset, angry and hurt; and justifiably so.  Sometimes it’s all rough patches.  We know that.  We also know that what works best is the careful application to your case of a ‘tough love’ attitude combined with an application of our knowledge of family law and estate law, our skills in litigation, our ability to work hard and our ability to work smart in advocating for your family’s future.

 

  • Communicating bad news as well as good:  Family law especially is built on concepts of equity and concern for the children involved.  This may mean that you get less than or different from what you want and even from what you actually need.  We will not hide this from you.  We will also work to achieve the best outcome practicable for you and yours.

 

Prevailing in your family law case, no matter how difficult; or drawing up the estate planning documents you need, no matter how complex; depends on establishing a community of trust between us.  We are confident we will prove worthy of that trust.

 

Plymouth Minnesota Attorney Firm

Welcome to the Moore Family Law blog. I’m Tom Moore, the Office Manager here at our offices in Plymouth, MN.  I’d like to write briefly on something important for our practice of family law dealing with divorce, custody, alimony and support; and also to our estate planning practice dealing with wills, trusts, estates, and legacy planning.  My thanks to “Professional Legal Management Week” magazine for the articles which inspired this post.

Efficiency
You may never meet me in person, but the important result of the work I do for you is that Moore Family Law can always provide superior legal advice and that we can do so at the lowest practicable cost to you.

As Office Manger, my job is to handle the business side of the firm – finances, computer systems, paying the bills. This helps ensure that our attorneys, Jennifer Moore and Emily Matson, have the time and energy to focus on what they do best – representing you and our other clients at a difficult time. Since Jennifer and Emily are not interrupted by the details of the business, they are more able to focus on the strategy, legal issues, and details of your case.

Thank you!
I plan to post weekly to the Moore Family Law blog. We hope that by providing some relevant behind-the-scenes information on the practice of family law and estate planning law, you will come to better understand how and why we do what we do the way we do. It’s all part of advocating your family’s future.

Welcome to the Moore Family Law blog and the new web page www.moorefamilylawMN.com and to our new trusts and estates line of business.  Our web site is up and working.

Thank you!  Please feel free to contact us at Moore Family Law