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Saint Paul Family Law Blog

Are you being 'gaslighted' by your spouse?

If you and your spouse are in a volatile relationship, it's possible that your relationship could degenerate into domestic violence. Physical abuse can leave visible scars, but there is a type of psychological abuse that traumatizes its victims just the same — gaslighting.

That term is derived from a 1930s play that later became a movie. It was called Gas Light, because the plot revolved around a husband's attempt to make his wife think that she was losing her mind. He manipulated the gas-powered lights in his home to brighten and dim randomly while denying any changes were occurring in the room's illumination.

How long do alimony payments last?

Ending a marriage is typically traumatic for any Minnesota couple, and although most spouses may want to make a clean break and proceed with a new life, some connection will remain if there are children or if the court orders spousal support to be paid. The person paying alimony will likely not be keen on spending many years of supporting an ex-spouse, and, similarly, the one receiving it might want to become self-supporting as soon as possible. Both would want to know how long alimony will last.

Each case is unique, and the period of spousal support can vary widely. It will depend on state laws and also on personal circumstances. Typically, spousal support only lasts as long as it is officially needed. Lifetime alimony is no longer common since both spouses in most families are educated and able to earn an income.

How to avoid being in contempt of court in a divorce case?

Most people have something that make them see red and lose their cool. One place where even the most easygoing person can be tempted to act out is family court. In divorce proceedings, the judge may give such detailed instructions of what may and may not be done, that the recipient of the message may feel like he or she is in kindergarten.  Despite how this makes a person feel, Minnesota divorcees can only benefit from adhering to these court orders.

Not following the orders may result in a finding of contempt of court. This literally means that a person has failed to adhere to an order handed down by a judge. In the case of divorce, issues which commonly lead to contempt relate to custody, withholding financial information and ignoring restraining orders. Depending on the underlying issue, judges may give a person in contempt some time to rectify the issue, but not adhering may result in fines and even jail time.

Divorce: mistakes it may be wise to avoid

Thinking with one's head and not one's heart is not always an easy thing to do, especially when the decision one has to make involves strong emotions. One instance where it is imperative to avoid making emotional decisions is during the divorce process. The problem is that many emotionally charged factors, such as child support and custody, can make matters more difficult.

Of course, divorce is also legally challenging. Minnesota divorcees may benefit by being aware of a few possible mistakes to avoid. First, guidelines and decisions made with regard to custody must always be respected. Disregarding legal rulings in terms of visitation and or child support may have detrimental repercussions and can even lead to a loss of visitations or even custodial rights.

Child custody: Awareness for child support raised in August

Children need their families to act as a unit in order to thrive. The month of August is to be focused on creating awareness for the importance of supporting children. The physical and emotional needs of children should be a priority no matter the dynamics of the child's family within which they grow up. Creating awareness among Minnesota parents regarding the importance of child custody arrangements in establishing a feeling of security in their children is one focal point.

While the main aim of the Division of Child Support of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is to ensure that children are supported financially, there is an understanding for the dilemmas parents may face. A number of reasons may prohibit parents meeting their financial obligations, although they may really want to do so. Parents may not be able to meet their obligations due to being homeless, unemployment or past legal troubles.

How to prevent trouble when asking for a prenuptial agreement

Asking for a prenuptial agreement can be scary, as you don't want to anger your partner in advance of your wedding day.

Even so, if you know that a prenuptial agreement is important to you, it's a conversation you must bring to light as soon as possible.

Alimony, prenuptial agreements and millennials

Previous generations, like the baby boomers and Generation X-ers considered prenuptial agreements something reserved for famous people trying to protect their assets in case of divorce. Many people may have thought it is purely to protect one party against the alimony claims of another. However, the millennials have come to change these ideas.

More and more Minnesota millennials are opting for a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot. Four main reasons have been identified for this move by millennials toward signing an agreement before getting married.  Millennials want to focus on becoming financially secure, independent and established in their careers before tying the knot. A prenup allows a couple to remain financially independent and keep individual assets safe should things not work out.

Child custody: Parenting schedule ensures fair time allocation

Whether separated or divorced, an important decision to be made by parents is how to deal with visitation. As part of the child custody agreement, Minnesota parents may benefit from working toward creating a schedule to be followed to ensure that each parent sees the children as much as possible. Establishing fair parenting time is a good start to solving what many consider to be a difficult problem. 

A negotiated and agreed upon parenting schedule can lay the foundation for a parenting plan that can address aspects such as the responsibilities of each parent, as well as child support. Arriving at a fair agreement ensures an outcome that is best for the whole family. However, while compiling a parenting schedule, there are a number of aspects that should be kept in mind.  

What will alimony options be after Jan. 1, 2019?

When Minnesota couples divorce, money matters and post-divorce financial stability typically receive a significant amount of attention. Those who are still contemplating such a step must keep the changed alimony laws in mind. Currently, any alimony paid in cash to an ex-spouse is tax deductible, but that will no longer apply after the end of 2018. Also, the recipient will not have to declare alimony as a taxable income as of Jan. 1, 2019. This new law has led to some financial advisers suggesting the higher-earning spouse should use a lump sum payment of his or her individual retirement account as a bargaining chip for alimony payments.

However, regardless of how attractive this may sound to the recipient, it must be carefully considered before such an offer is accepted. The paying spouse will have an indirect tax saving because he or she would have had to pay tax on funds withdrawn from the IRA, and although the transfer is tax-free, the receiving spouse will have to pay tax when withdrawing money from it. Furthermore, if the recipient withdraws IRA funds before he or she is 59 and a half years old, there will be a 10 percent penalty for early withdrawal.

Child custody during the summer months: Keep these things in mind

It goes without saying that your child is looking forward to summer vacation. While you may have to work all summer long, it doesn't mean you can overlook the many wants and needs of your child over the next few months.

Child custody disputes have a way of moving to the forefront during the summer months. The way you deal with these will have a lot to say about the way things play out during this time of the year.

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