The legal dissolution of a marriage, commonly known as divorce, requires an in-depth knowledge of a client’s family dynamics as well as an understanding of a family’s financial circumstances and other unique factors that set us all apart. In a great many instances, clients need the assistance of a qualified attorney to guide them through the complex legal issues presented in a divorce case. At Klemp & Stanton, PLLP, we pride ourselves on taking the time to understand your needs and goals – we have been providing skilled legal representation in divorce cases for more than thirty years. Whether your case is appropriate for resolution through negotiation, mediation or litigation, we will be there for you.
Basics of Minnesota Divorce
Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state – meaning that divorcing parties need not prove that their spouse was unfaithful, engaged in domestic abuse, abandoned a spouse, or otherwise caused a failure of the marriage relationship. A married couple does not have to prove that one party was at fault or did something that specifically caused the breakdown of the marriage relationship. However, there are decisions that need to be made regarding various aspects of divorce.
Common Issues Acquainted With Divorce
- Equitable Division of Marital Assets and Debts: The marital assets subject to division in a divorce case may include real estate such as houses, vacation cabins and land, household items like furniture and electronic equipment, retirement and bank accounts, small businesses, and other personal property including jewelry, antiques and motor vehicles (including cars, recreational vehicles, boats and motorcycles). Marital debts may include mortgages, loans of many types and credit cards. The assets and debts of a marriage typically must be valued and divided in a manner that is fair and equitable to both parties.
- Spousal Maintenance (Alimony): Decisions need to be made regarding spousal maintenance and whether financial assistance is needed by one spouse from the other, especially when one spouse may not have worked outside the home during the marriage for an extended period of time and is not in a position to be immediately self-supporting.
- Custody and Parenting Time Schedules: An important determination following a divorce or separation involves the custody of children. Almost as important is the establishment of a parenting time (visitation) scheduled that both meets the needs of the parents and serves the best interests of the children.
- Child Support: Although child support in Minnesota is calculated based on a comparison of the parties’ incomes through the use of child support guidelines, sometimes extenuating circumstances exist that may make a strict guideline award of child support unreasonable or unfair. There also exists in Minnesota a rebuttable presumption that a parent should be gainfully employed on a full-time basis. If a parent is unemployed or underemployed, potential income may be imputed to that parent unless that parent can show that he/she is not voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In determining potential income, situations when one parent is self employed or has been a stay-at-home parent require a more creative approach to the matter. Sometimes, it is appropriate to have a child support obligation modified subsequent to the parties’ divorce due to the increase or decrease of a parent’s income. Whether a parent’s increase or decrease in income warrants a child support modification depends on whether the parent requesting modification can demonstrate two things. First, the requesting parent must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Once that has been established, before modification may be granted, the requesting parent must also show that the change has rendered the existing order unreasonable and unfair. As a rule of thumb, a twenty percent (20%) change in the income of a party will generally warrant a modification of child support.
Klemp & Stanton, PLLP also assists with other important matters involving divorce, dissolution of marriage and legal separation, including:
- Providing health insurance coverage for the children.
- Making decisions about the children’s education, including addressing issues of funding higher education.
- Religious upbringing.
- Business ownership.
- Mental health concerns, particularly if a parent’s mental illness will affect their ability to parent.
- Prior domestic abuse.
- Chemical dependency and habitual gambling concerns, again, particularly when they will impact the ability to care for the children.