Minnesota Family Law Blog

Proving a Non-Marital Claim May Not be as Hard as You Think

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In Minnesota, if a divorcing party is able to prove that property is that individual's "non-marital" property (i.e., was brought into the marriage or was a gift or inheritance to one but not both of the parties), that property is typically not subject to division in the divorce and will be awarded to the individual who proves the property is non-marital.

Buy-Sell Agreements Help Businesses Survive Divorce

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Few events can set a business back as quickly as a divorce involving one if it owners. Whether the business is a farm, manufacturing company, medical or dental practice, or other professional practice or business, a divorce and efforts related to getting the parties and the business through the divorce can wreck substantial havoc to the business's bottom line, in addition to the health and emotional wellbeing of all involved.

In Calculating a Business Owner's Child Support, the Facts are Important

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Recently, the Minnesota Court of Appeals had the opportunity to address the amount of discretion trial judges have in setting child support for Minnesota parents, specifically when determining child support for a self-employed individual.

Modifying Parenting Time and the Primary Residence Designation

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In Minnesota, a custody order must establish a child's physical custody and primary residence. But nowhere in Minnesota's family law statutes is the term "primary residence" defined. The primary residence definition is important because under Minnesota Statute Section 518.175, subd. 5(a), a court shall modify a parenting time order if it would serve the best interests of the child only if the modification would not change the child's primary residence.

Divorce Business Valuation: What is Goodwill and Who Gets it?

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When a Minnesota business divorce includes an ongoing business as an asset, there are many interesting and complex issues which need to be addressed. Valuing a business is an art, not a science, and there is no precise, perfect method of measuring a business's value. That said, there are various components to a business which may impact value for purposes of divorce. One important factor is whether or not to include "goodwill" and, if so, how much.

Keep in Mind Trust Assets When Getting Divorced in Minnesota

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In Minnesota, trusts are often overlooked assets in divorces.  A trust could either be set up by the parties themselves before or during the marriage or set up by someone else for the benefit of one or both of the parties. 

Divorce and the Family Farm: "The Times They Are a-Changin"

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Farming is not just a business; it is a way of life. Historically, divorce rates for farmers and ranchers in the United States have been well below the average divorce rate for the total population. The reasons are many. Farm families are generally closer as a family unit than non-farm families. Farm couples generally have similar values and cultural backgrounds, are more likely to be religious, and are typically in rural areas where divorce is less common and where "family values" are more cherished. In the past, there were fewer opportunities to "stray" and less economic opportunities for farm wives.

Served With (or Serving) Divorce Papers? Time to Review Your Estate Plan

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In Minnesota, a divorce commences upon service of a Summons and Petition. The Summons includes a "mandatory restraining order," ordering that neither party may dispose of any asset except: (1) for the necessities of life or for the necessary generation of income or preservation of assets; (2) by an agreement in writing; or (3) for retaining counsel to carry on or to contest the divorce. All insurance coverage must be maintained and continued without change in coverage or beneficiary designation. Your family court judge can modify these restraints, but only after a motion is filed.

Months, and sometimes years, can pass between commencement of the divorce and dissolution of the marriage. After you serve (or are served) the Summons and Petition, you are still legally married. You still owe a fiduciary duty to your spouse, even if he or she is now your "estranged spouse." Your marriage is only dissolved by a decree of dissolution granted by a judge, either after a trial or by stipulation of the parties. Absent a revised estate plan, if you die during that period of time, your estranged spouse will likely receive a greater share of your estate than you intend. To protect yourself and your assets, you should:

Living With Your Significant Other? Think About a Cohabitation Agreement

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My estate planning colleagues regularly ask me about the legal rights and responsibilities between cohabiting adults. Since more and more people are living together, and even having children together, without getting married, this issue will continue to increase in important. Before you begin cohabitating with someone, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law, and to understand the additional legal rights you could obtain by properly drafted Cohabitation Agreements or other legal documents.

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