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Saint Paul Family Law Blog

Child custody: Abuse allegations often complicate matters

Minnesota judges often have their work cut out to determine whether there is merit to accusations of child endangerment or abuse when a parent petitions the court for sole custody. Child custody proceedings can sometimes include issues that are black and white, and when parents agree, they simply need to workout the details of their co-parenting arrangements. Other cases are far more complicated, however, such as those involving parents accusing each other of being a detriment to a child's well-being.

That is what is happening in reality TV star Bethenny Frankel's case against her former spouse, Jason Hoppy. Both parents have accused each other of child detriment. Frankel says Hoppy is emotionally and mentally abusive and that his presence places her daughter's emotional stability at risk. Hoppy told the court that Frankel has exposed his daughter to unsavory things, including possible illegal drug use by Frankel's now-deceased boyfriend, Dennis Shields, who passed away after a drug overdose.

Why would you keep your home during divorce?

The reason that you hear so many divorcing couples talk about selling the house is that it makes things far easier from a financial perspective. If you still have a mortgage, you can pay it off and eliminate your debt. If you own the house -- or if it sells for more than you owe -- you can split up the earnings. As you dissolve your marriage and split assets, this gives you a simple way to divide the value in the home.

But if that's so easy and common, why do some people opt to keep the house? Here are a few potential reasons:

Minnesota alimony basics to know before heading to court

Many Minnesota marriages will end in divorce this year. Every case is unique and judges overseeing particular cases must make decisions based on the specific evidence presented in court. In many cases, a key issue that often leads to litigation is alimony.

The court often orders alimony as a means of financial assistance to a lower income-earning spouse in divorce. The purpose of this type of support is to help the financially struggling spouse to maintain a similar standard of living to which he or she was accustomed in marriage. A judge typically considers several factors before making such decisions. 

NFL's Antonio Brown petitions court for child custody

Most Minnesota parents who face legal issues regarding child-related matters are not celebrities. However, some may relate to a situation that a particular sports celebrity is currently navigating. The NFL Steelers' wide receiver, Antonio Brown, has filed paperwork in court to seek sole child custody of his daughter, following an incident where he says the child's mother falsely accused him of domestic violence.

Brown's attorney issued several public statements to clarify the situation. He said the child's mother had gone to Brown's residence demanding more child support. She reportedly refused to leave the premises when asked to do so and later filed a police report accusing of Brown of domestic violence but recanted the statement because it held no merit.

Miguel Cabrera ordered to pay $20,000 per month in child support

Many Minnesota married couples fight over money. In some situations, extenuating circumstances intensify such personal problems, such as when spouses are discovered to be giving money to other romantic partners in extramarital affairs. Major League Baseball's Miguel Cabrera almost lost his wife to divorce for similar issues; however, she ultimately decided to stay married in spite of her husband's infidelity. Some say that the fact that Cabrera chose staying with his wife over leaving her for his mistress is what prompted the ex-mistress to sue him for child support.

The woman in question gave birth to two children during her affair with the MLB star. His paternity of the children was established when she filed a lawsuit against him. The woman's attorney told the court that she was doing what most good mothers would do in trying to protect her children's best interests.

Using technology to simplify child custody matters

Keeping a family's schedule may be quite a daunting task, but when that schedule has to be arranged around two homes, it may be even worse. Shared child custody is often the ideal arrangement for divorced Minnesota parents, but it can be difficult to keep all the different schedules aligned. Even when custody is shared, it often works out that one parent has to take on the majority of the responsibilities regarding the coordination of the child's schedule and to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Each parent needs to be informed on what activities take place when, and who drops off and picks up their child when and where. However, modern times bring modern solutions to many problems, and even to this one. Luckily, for the modern-day parent, smartphones allow one to download a variety of apps that can make one's life so much easier.

Understanding the effect trauma can have on a military divorce

If you are going through a divorce with your military spouse, you may feel emotionally overwhelmed by the process. Many of us learn new sides to a person whom we thought we knew intimately, and learning that your spouse will no longer be there for you in times of need can be extremely tough.

Divorcing a military spouse can often be a catalyst for psychological triggers due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a disorder that is, unfortunately, very common for members of the military. If you are going through a divorce with someone who is suffering from PTSD, it is important to understand the ways that this can affect the process of divorce.

Divorce: a few helpful basic guidelines

Most people experience marriages breaking up in one way or another. It may be part of a favorite television series, in the tabloids and among friends and family, but it is only when one finds oneself in the process of a divorce that one realizes what it really means. Minnesota couples may benefit from taking cognizance of some basic guidelines.

Divorce is not a quick process. In fact, it can be tedious and frustrating, so it is very important to consider if it really is the step to take. Once the process has started, it is difficult to undo the decision. After the decision has been made, it may be beneficial to look into the different paths available. Litigation is not the only path to a divorce; mediation and collaborative law are further options.

A few things to remember after divorce

When you get married, there is a lot that one has to remember to do or change. Things like changing a last name where required, making sure to obtain a copy of the marriage certificate and many others. One may even open joint bank and credit card accounts, or buy a house in the name of both parties. What few people in Minnesota may consciously think of is that the same has to happen in reverse when in the case of divorce.

One of the more important things to do is to change personal information at the bank. The most obvious account information to change is credit card information, but this is not the only change needed. Joint accounts, both savings and checking, have to be closed, while the details on insurance policies should be updated and corrected.

What about gifts received from a spouse in case of a divorce?

Married couples often give one another gifts -- some more expensive than others. Anything gifted during a marriage will be seen as marital property in the case of a divorce. Minnesota couples considering divorce may be surprised to find that decisions regarding marital gifts may be more complex than expected.

The way courts view gifts may depend on when the gift was given. Gifts gifted before the wedding, including an engagement ring, are not considered as marital property, as they were given outside the marriage. However, if any of these gifts, especially jewelry, have been changed or improved while the couple was married, the way it is viewed changes. Gifts improved or changed are seen as marital property and can be included in the assets to be split between the divorcing partners.

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