Author: Dan Fiskum
Daniel Fiskum is a Minnesota divorce attorney who has been practicing since 1992. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Fiskum is currently writing a book for attorneys and non-attorneys entitled "The Streetfighter's Guide to Divorce," which is scheduled for publication in May, 2010. Many of his blog entries will appear in the book. You may contact attorney Fiskum directly at (952) 270-7700. His office is located in the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The Fiskum Law website is found at www.fiskumlaw.com.

Minnesota Divorce and Dividing Property

In Minnesota, divorce courts divide property “equitably.”  This that means property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. For property that has high value – real estate, a business, or other investments – generally an appraiser is hired to determine

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Minnesota Divorce Judges and Referees

There are two counties in Minnesota in which both judges and referees preside over divorce cases. These are Hennepin County and Ramsey County.  Practically speaking, judges and referees have the same amount of authority.  They both conduct hearings and trials

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Minnesota Divorce and Income Taxes

As you know, April 17 is fast approaching and federal and state income tax returns will soon become due.  (Usually the due date is April 15, but it’s been extended by the IRS because the 15th falls on a weekend

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Divorce and the Early Neutral Evaluation Process

It is important that you understand the Early Neutral Evaluation process in order to have the greatest chance of being successful in your divorce case.

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Changes to Divorce Law in 2018

In my opinion, one of the most important changes to Minnesota divorce law in 2018 is the federal tax treatment of spousal maintenance. This occurred as part of the sweeping tax reform bill passed by congress and signed by the

Divorce and the Holidays

I am sometimes asked if it is better to wait until after the holidays to start a divorce proceeding.  My answer is usually “it depends.” If the person asking does not have children with his or her spouse, in my

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Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota

In the State of Minnesota, when determining spousal maintenance, there are two primary considerations – the amount of the monthly payment, and the duration, or length of time that the award or obligation will last.  Spousal maintenance is one area

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Important Change to Spousal Maintenance Law

The Minnesota legislature enacted a very important change to Minnesota spousal maintenance laws.  The change became effective on August 1, 2016. Under the new law, cohabitation is now grounds for terminating spousal maintenance.  There are some factual tests that need

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What is a QDRO?

In Minnesota divorce, valuing and dividing retirement assets can be complex, and it is important that the QDRO be prepared by a competent, experienced attorney. Call attorney Daniel Fiskum, Esq., and Minnetonka Family Law now for a free divorce case analysis. (952) 270-7700.

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Should YOU Make the First Move?

Often, people who know a divorce is coming ask me whether they should file first, or whether they should let their spouse file first.  My answer is “It depends.” If the divorce is non-contested, if you and your spouse get

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MN Divorce and Taxes

With tax time coming, I am asked a lot of questions about divorce and taxes. Here are some things to keep in mind: 1. Transfers between spouses pursuant to a divorce decree are nontaxable. 2. Even if you are divorced,

Divorce Minnesota Style

There are some things about divorcing in Minnesota that are very predictable. There are some things about divorcing in Minnesota that are very unpredictable. Child Custody and Parenting Time: More often than not, the custody and parenting time arrangement resembles

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In Divorce, You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

A lot of times people call Fiskum Law, P.A., to ask whether they “need” a lawyer for their divorce proceeding.  My answer is usually “yes, you probably need a lawyer.”  That’s different than saying that you can afford to hire a lawyer. 

Holiday Parenting Time in MN

At Fiskum Law Office, P.A., we can amend your divorce decree after you have already been divorced, so that it addresses parenting time problems and other issues that have arisen after the divorce. Please feel free to call attorney Daniel Fiskum, Esq., at (952) 270-7700 to schedule a free case analysis.

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The Role of Mediation in Minnesota Divorce

As I have written about in the past, mediation is an important component of the divorce process in Minnesota courts. There is also another process that is similar, but different. This process is known as “Early Neutral Evaluation.” What is

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Minnesota Divorce and Child Custody

The issue of child custody and parenting time can be contentious in divorce proceedings.  I always advise people that it is best to resolve disagreements about child custody and parenting time amicably.  This can happen in discussions between the parties,

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MN Divorce and Income Tax Returns

When you are getting divorced, it is important to pay attention to income tax returns.  Often, it makes sense financially for a divorcing couple to file a joint income tax return for the preceding year.  Before you sign a joint

10 Things Divorcing Fathers Need to Know

If you are a father who is seeking custody of your children, or equal parenting time, etc., you need to know the following ten things: 1. The names of your children’s school teachers; 2. The names of your children’s doctors;

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Minnesota Divorce and Daycare Costs

Often, people who divorce have young children who go to daycare during the day or after school.  Daycare costs can be a significant part of a family budget, especially when families are divorced. In Minnesota, divorce courts require each party

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Divorce and Joint Tax Returns

Around this time of year we at Fiskum Law are often asked about whether a divorcing spouse should file a joint tax return with the other spouse.  Our answer is “it depends.” When you sign a joint tax return with

Holiday Parenting Time in Minnesota

I am frequently asked questions about holiday parenting time and how that is allocated between divorced parents. Sometimes this can be a contentious issue, especially if one parent wants to bring the children to a family gathering that is out

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Divorce and Business Valuation

When a person owns a business, divorce can pose special problems.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and a business owner who is going through a divorce (or a spouse of a business owner) needs competent and experienced legal representation to

MN Family Law in 2012

I believe that in 2012, Minnesota Family Law will continue on a trend towards private resolution of divorce cases.  In large part, this is dictated by the current legislative attitude towards raising revenue and funding services, specifically funding the Minnesota

Documents Needed for MN Divorce

If you are considering getting divorced, it is a good idea to assemble the documents you may need to refer to in the future and put them somewhere for safe keeping.  These documents can include state and federal income tax returns,

Divorce and Drug Addiction

Occasionally someone contacts me about divorcing a spouse who is abusing alcohol or drugs.  They would like to keep the proceeding “amicable,” but at the same time they are concerned that their spouse might receive inappropriate parenting time, meaning that

MN Paternity and Custody

The are a lot of children whose parents were never married.  Often I am asked questions, by both fathers and mothers, about parental rights in these situations. Here’s the deal: in Minnesota, if you are the father of a child

MN Divorce and Retirement Assets

Recently I was asked whether re-marriage can affect a person’s entitlement to receive retirement assets that were divided pursuant to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order as part of a divorce decree.  The answer is “No.” Here’s the background: in Minnesota,

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MN Divorce and College Tuition

I am sometimes asked about how the issue of college tuition plays into divorce proceedings in Minnesota.  The short answer is that it doesn’t. I am aware of some state in which a court can require a parent to pay

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Minnesota Government Shutdown

Like most Minnesotans, whether Republican or Democrat, I do not like to see our state government shut down.  I hope our elected representatives do what needs to be done to get our state open for business again. The Minnesota court

MN Divorce and Government Shutdown

If you have been following the Minnesota news, you know that the Minnesota state government is going to shut down on July 1 because of lack of funding.  Only essential services will remain open.  This includes prisons, state mental hospital,

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MN Family Law and Child Support

One of the most frequently asked questions that I get from people is “how is the amount of child support determined in Minnesota?” A few years back, the Minnesota legislature created a set of rules that have been incorporated into

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Minnetonka Divorce Guru

Generally, I am in favor of settling cases amicably, when ever that is possible.  There is a saying among lawyers and judges that a bad settlement is often better than a good decision from the court.  In part, this is

Superbowl and Divorce

Well, the 2011 Superbowl, the annual football game of the century, has finally come and gone and Green Bay is victorious.  Unfortunately, the Minnesota Vikings were again unavailable to play in the Superbowl this year, but since I have lots

MN Divorce and the IRS tax exemption

Often I am asked about which parent is entitled to claim the income tax dependency exemption for minor children after divorce.  The answer is “it depends.” In Minnesota, the divorce court may award the right to claim the income tax

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Minnesota Divorce in 2011

My recent blog post on the future of divorce in Minnesota has received a lot of attention.  I am hopeful that the folks at the Minnesota state legislature understand the severe economic pressure that the Minnesota court system is under.

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Minnesota Past Due Child Support

Often I am asked questions about how Minnesota divorce courts handle the issue of past due child support.  The language used to describe late, past due, and child support arrearages is not always applied consistently.  My  understanding is that the

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Plymouth MN Divorce Guru

Often I am asked about the circumstances under which a divorced parent can modify the parenting time arrangement that they have with their ex-spouse.  Modification can be needed for a variety of reasons – people change  jobs, children get older

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Minnesota Divorce in 2011

As followers of this blog know, I believe that the biggest challenge currently facing the family court system in Minnesota is lack of adequate funding.  I think it is important that everyone communicate to their legislators how important it is

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Minnesota Child Support

The Minnesota Child Support laws underwent a significant change in 2007.  The impact of this change is significant.  Under the old law, the parent who had physical custody of the children received child support.  Whether that parent (the physical custodian)

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The Future of Family Law in Minnesota?

The fact is that I do not know what is going to happen in the future, anymore than anyone else does. But, I think it is possible to make some prognostications based upon what is happening now. In my opinion,

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Minnesota Divorce and School Selection

Once in a while I am asked about what happens when two divorced parents (or two parents who are in the divorce process) cannot agree on which school their children should attend.  In Minnesota, the right to select a child’s

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MN Divorce Lawyers – How to Pick One

Once in a while people ask me how to pick a good divorce attorney. Generally, an attorney with more experience charges more than an attorney with less experience.  That does not mean that you are necessarily going to get a

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Can I Represent Myself in a MN Divorce Proceeding?

People sometimes ask me whether they can represent themselves in a Minnesota divorce proceeding.  The answer is “Yes.”  One can always represent oneself in a court proceeding. However, you need to keep in mind that in Minnesota, it is also

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MN Divorce – Temporary Hearing

In a Minnesota divorce proceeding, if the case is not resolved early on by the Early Neutral Program or mediation, the next step might be a motion for temporary relief.  A “motion” is when one asks the court to do something. 

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Minnesota Divorce Procedure

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, most courts in Minnesota do not use an Early Neutral Evaluation program.  In those counties, the procedure that takes place during the divorce is somewhat different. Most Minnesota divorce courts convene a

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Something A Little Different

Hey everyone, I just thought I’d let you know that I am participating in the Cry America 5K run / walk fundraiser that will be held at Como Lake on Saturday, July 17, 2010.  Cry America is a charity that

MN Divorce – The Next Step

For those of you who have been following the blog, I am writing about the various steps in the divorce process in Minnesota.  So far, I have talked about service of the Summons and Petition (by the Petitioner) and service

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MN Divorce – What Is An “Answer”?

In the previous post I talked about the divorce Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  Service of these documents is the event that commences a divorce proceeding in Minnesota.  A person who is served with a Summons and Petition

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MN Divorce Petition

A Minnesota divorce proceeding is started by the service of a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  “Service” means that the documents (the Summons and Petition) need to be personally handed to the recipient by someone other than his

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MN Divorce, Fear and “Discovery”

I am a Minnesota divorce lawyer.  I practice divorce law in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  Divorce varies significantly from state to state, because it is pretty much a creation of state (not federal) law.  However, one thing that I think is

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Minnesota’s child support law

People who are getting divorced in Minnesota often ask questions about Minnesota’s child support laws.  The Minnesota child support statute changed significantly in 2007.  If you were divorced before 2007, you are probably operating under the “old” system.  If you

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Minnesota Divorce and Daycare Expenses

People who are getting divorced in Minnesota often ask me about daycare expenses.  Usually, they want to know if their ex-spouse will have to contribute to their daycare or child care costs.  The answer to the question is “Yes,” provided

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Online Divorce Scams

I spoke to someone yesterday who said she had paid $250 for so-called “online divorce.”  She said she didn’t get divorced and she didn’t get her money back.  So called “online divorces” are a scam.  Do not waste your money.  Regardless

Minnesota Divorce and Retirement Assets

Often people ask me about how to divide retirement assets when they get divorced.  As I’ve mentioned before, Minnesota is a marital property (or common law) divorce state.  It is not a community property divorce state.  (Most states are community

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The Divorce System In Minnesota

One of the problems with the divorce process in Minnesota is that procedures vary greatly from county to county.  This should be corrected by the Minnesota legislature. Historically, the model for the divorce process in Minnesota was the “litigation” model. 

How Long Do I Need to be in Minnesota?

People occasionally ask me how long they need to reside in Minnesota before they can file for divorce in Minnesota.  The answer is 180 days (which is six months).  You have to have resided in Minnesota for six months before you

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Sandra Bullock’s Divorce

It is in People Magazine today, so it must be official: Sandra Bullock is filing for divorce.  Apparently she and her estranged husband Jesse James began adoption proceedings about four years ago, and just within the past few months brought

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Minnesota Paternity, Parental Rights and Parenting Time

Here’s the deal: Maternity is a matter of fact.  Paternity is a matter of opinion.  Until the genetic DNA test results have been returned.  And, until a district court judge has signed a court order. If you are a father

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The Cost of Minnesota Divorce

People often ask how much it costs to get divorced.  The answer is “it depends.”  Certain costs are predictable.  Currently, it costs $400 to file a divorce petition in a Minnesota district court.  Some counties charge slightly higher, depending upon

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Minnesota Divorce and College Tuition

Sometimes people ask whether, as part of their divorce decree, the court can impose a requirement that their soon-to-be ex-spouse pay for college tuition for the children.  The answer is “No.” In Minnesota, a divorce court has jurisdiction over minor

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How To Modify Child Support in MN

People often ask how to modify child support in Minnesota.  Sometimes this process is not complex and it can be done without an attorney.   More often the process is complex and you need an attorney.  I always recommend that people

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Retirement and Alimony in Minnesota

If you are paying alimony in Minnesota and are thinking about retiring, there are several things you need to know.  First, “alimony” and “spousal maintenance” mean the same thing.  In Minnesota, the divorce statute uses the term “spousal maintenance.”  However,

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Living Together Without Marriage

Occasionally someone will ask me about cohabitation in Minnesota.  “Cohabitation” is another way of saying “living together.” If you are thinking of moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend without getting married, here are some things to consider: If you

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MN Divorce Mediation – When Is It Necessary?

There are a lot of misconceptions about divorce mediation in Minnesota.  The following might be helpful: 1.  What is mediation?  It is a process in which the parties to a divorce action and their attorneys meet with a neutral third

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Hennepin County FENE

In Hennepin County, they have a program called “Financial Early Neutral Evaluation.”  It is similar to the custody and parenting time neutral evaluation program, but there are differences.  For example, there is only one evaluator and the parties are required

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How to Pick a Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota

People sometimes ask me for advice on how to pick a divorce attorney in Minnesota.  Usually these are people who have never needed an attorney in the past.  They have no experience with the legal system, no experience with attorneys, and

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MN Orders for Protection and Divorce

In Minnesota, there is a type of court order that is called a “domestic abuse order for protection.”  This is an order that is intended to protect an abused party from an abuser.  Typically, a domestic abuse order for protection

MN Divorce and Child Support

The Minnesota child support law were significantly revised effective 2007.  Under the new child support law, income from both parents is used in calculating the amount of support that is paid.  Income from a new spouse or new significant other

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Income Tax Returns and MN Child Support

Often I am asked about modifying child support after the divorce decree has been entered.  Sometimes a person receiving child support believes that child support payer has received a significant increase in income and that if child support were recalculated,

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Obtaining Financial Info in MN Divorce Cases

Often a party to a divorce proceeding will try to hide information about his or her income and assets.  There are various tactics an opposing attorney can use to try to obtain documentation about a party’s real income or assets.

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Divorce Mediation in MN

People often ask me about mediation.  Mediation occurs when two parties to a divorce try to negotiate an amicable settlement with the help of a neutral third party.  I am all in favor of mediation, though because it costs quite

Minneapolis Divorce Lawyer

Every once in a while, people ask me whether I will travel to out state Minnesota to represent someone in a divorce proceeding.  Usually the answer is “yes,” but I have to qualify the answer.  As a Minneapolis divorce lawyer, I

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Appealing a MN Divorce Decree

People sometimes ask about appealing a case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  Generally speaking, it is difficult to overturn a judge’s decision on appeal.  But, like all of us, judges are human and they make mistakes.   Sometimes an appeal

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When Should You Hire an Attorney?

A lot of people wonder if they really need an attorney.  Or, they may think they need an attorney, but want to bring him or her onboard only towards the end of the proceeding. When people who are getting divorced ask

What are Family Court Referees?

There are two counties in Minnesota that use “referees” in family court.  These counties are Hennepin and Ramsey.  A referee is a judicial officer who has authority to make rulings in divorce cases.  A referee does not have the same

Why Divorce Sucks

Divorce is a difficult process.  It is jarring.  It is emotional.  Aside from the death of a loved one, divorce is probably one of the more miserable experiences a person will have.  People going through a divorce have anxieties about

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MN Divorce Proceeding – Temporary Relief

In a Minnesota divorce proceeding, the temporary relief hearing can be the single most important aspect of the case.  At a temporary relief hearing, the judge will make decisions on a temporary basis–decisions about temporary child custody and parenting time, temporary

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Collaborative Law in Minnesota

Occasionally people ask me about “collaborative law.”  They want to know what it is, and whether it is “better” than other alternatives.  I never answer this question directly.  I have many attorney friends who practice “collaborative law,” and I respect

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MN Divorce Attorney

The phrase “Minnesota Divorce Attorney” is one of the phrases googled most often by people in Minnesota who are considering a divorce.  I suppose this is appropriate because it does make it easy for someone to find a list of Minnesota

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MN Divorce and Attorney’s Fees

If your spouse is keeping all of the family money for himself or herself and you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you should ask the court to award you attorney’s fees, to be paid by your spouse.

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MN Divorce and Bankruptcy

Minnesota Divorce and Bankruptcy: Often people who are contemplating a divorce are also contemplating bankruptcy.  Marriage relationships can deteriorate quickly when there is significantfinancial pressure.  In this circumstance, bankruptcy can be a reasonable option. If you are considering bankruptcy at the same

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401(k) Plans and Financial Emergency

People who get divorced often have 401(k) retirement plans.  The funds in a 401(k) plan are “qualified” funds.  This means that the income tax on these funds, and income tax on the interest or gain realized by these funds, has not yet been paid. 

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The Future of Divorce in MN

I have practiced divorce law in Minnesota since 1992.  During that time, there have been significant changes both to the law, and also changes to the court system itself.  In my opinion, the most significant change to divorce law in

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MN Divorce and Extra-Marital Affairs

Fairly often I am asked whether one spouse’s extra-marital affair has an impact on a divorce proceeding.  The answer is “it depends.” First, let me say that I have great empathy for a spouse who realizes that he or she has

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MN Divorce and Guardian ad litems

In contested Minnesota divorce cases, a guardian ad litem is a person who is appointed by the court to represent the interests of children in a divorce proceeding.  Typically, the guardian ad litem does not perform a custody evaluation or

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MN Divorce and Income Tax Exemptions

Often people who divorce in Minnesota forget to address the issue of the income tax depdency exemptions for their minor children.  This issue should not be overlooked because, cumulatively, it could save a spouse tens of thousands of dollars on his

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Happy New Year

Hi Everyone– Today I don’t have any particularly profound comments about divorce in Minnesota.  I want to wish my friends, followers and clients a Happy New Year.  If you are one of my clients, you need to know that no

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MN Legal Separation and MN Divorce

Occasionally I am asked about the difference between a legal separation and a divorce.  As always, my comments on this blog pertain to Minnesota law only.  Though Minnesota family law is often similar to family law in other states, as

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MN Divorce and Child Alienation

As a divorce attorney, one of the things that I find most troubling is a parent who alienates the children from the other parent as a form of retaliation.  Sometimes this alienation is deliberate.  A parent wants to get even

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What Is Discovery In Minnesota Divorce?

In Minnesota, a divorce proceeding is a lawsuit, similar to just about any other district court proceeding.  Minnesota divorce procedures are governed by the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, which are court rules that regulate all legal proceedings in Minnesota courts. 

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Moving Children Out of Minnesota

After a divorce is over, one parent may want to move out of the State of Minnesota.  That parent may have physical custody of the parties’ minor children, and will probably want to bring the children along.  Regardless of whether you

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The So-Called $99 Divorce is Probably a Scam

Its no secret that the government is running low on money these days.  The court system (which is one of the three branches of government) is running low on money too.  Recently, Minnesota Chief Justice Eric J. Magnuson gave an

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How To Deal With Jerks

This may be hard to believe, but when you are involved in the practice of family law for any period of time, you will run into your share of jerks.  Often, these are opposing counsel — men and women —

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What is Early Neutral Evaluation?

Early Neutral Evaluations occur mostly in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  Many people do not know that the procedure for getting divorced in Minnesota varies from county to county.  In Minnesota, the court system is organized into “districts.”  There are 10 judicial  districts in

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What If You Do Not Serve An Answer?

In Minnesota, a divorce Summons contains a formal notice that the person being served with the Summons and Petition has thirty (30) days in which to serve an Answer.  What happens if you do not serve an Answer?  The answer

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What is “No Fault” Divorce in Minnesota

Minnesota is a “no fault” divorce state.  To the best of my knowledge, most, if not all states in the United States are no fault divorce states. What this means is that in a Minnesota divorce proceeding, one does not have

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How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced in MN?

I am occasionally asked how long it takes to get divorced in Minnesota.  The answer is “It depends.”  It can take anywhere from about 6 weeks to a year and a half or more, depending upon whether the parties can

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Modifying Divorce Decrees in Minnesota

In Minnesota, it is possible to modify certain parts of a divorce decree after the divorce is final.  A Minnesota divorce becomes “final” when the judge has signed the divorce Judgment and Decree (the full title of the document is

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Child Support in Minnesota

People frequently ask me how the Minnesota child support laws work.  There is a new Minnesota child support law, because the old law was modified significantly in 2007.  Now, child support is calculated using the gross incomes of both parents.  But, that’s

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How Do I Find Assets In Minnesota Divorce Proceedings?

When you get divorced in Minnesota, the Court will divide marital assets and debts.  The statute requires that this be done “equitably.”  Equitably usually means “equally,” but not necessarily.  As long as the asset division is fairly equal, Court consider

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Parenting Time for Unmarried Fathers

In Minnesota, an unmarried father has no parental rights unless these have been established by a court order.  The mother of the child has the common law right to physical and legal custody because she gave birth to her child.  When the

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What is a Temporary Relief Hearing?

Often it can take several months to complete the divorce process.  If there are disputes about custody and parenting time, disputes about the value of assets, or disputes about how much alimony or spousal maintenance should be paid, it can

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Holiday Parenting Time in MN

This is the time of year that many divorced parents begin to have problems with holiday parenting time.  Often times, divorce decrees are ambiguous about holiday parenting time.  A divorce decree might say that parenting time is “reasonable and liberal,”

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Do Divorce Attorneys Use Negotiating “Tricks”?

Do divorce attorneys use negotiating tricks?  Yes. Not all of them, but a lot of them. After all, they went to law school, they are attorneys, and they want to get the best deal for their client in any (legal)

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How Does Divorce Mediation Work In Minnesota?

Mediation is a process in which the parties to a divorce and their attorneys meet with a neutral third party in an attempt to resolve their disagreements, without going to trial.  The neutral third party should be a trained mediator. 

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What About “Flat Fee” Divorces?

Generally speaking, many of the so-called “flat fee” divorce offers from attorneys or para-legal services are scams.  Offering to do a job for a flat fee, especially when the process has not even started, is a lot like saying “You

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Does It Matter Who Starts the Divorce Proceeding?

A skilled divorce attorney understands the concept of “perceived credility.”  Maximizing the effect of “perceived credibility” for a client is one of the most important things an attorney does. Often I am asked whether it makes any difference who initiates

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When Should I Tell My Spouse?

One question I am often asked is when a spouse should discuss his or her intention to divorce with the other spouse.  My response is usually that “it depends.”  It is important for couples to try to cooperate during and

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How to Prepare for Divorce

There are several important steps you should take when preparing for divorce. Ideally, you should take these steps before the divorce proceeding actually begins. These steps will save you money and will position you to achieve a more favorable outcome. 

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What is an “Uncontested Divorce”?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce proceeding in which the parties agree on how to resolve all issues.  Instead of having a trial before a judge, the parties sign a written agreement. In Minnesota, this agreement is called a “Marital Termination

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