You and your ex anticipate an amicable divorce. In an age of Pinterest and YouTube tutorials, a DIY divorce might seem appealing, especially if you enjoy visions of a harmonious post-divorce relationship. Your insistence on viewing this process through rose-colored glasses could prove devastating for the following reasons:
Failing to Fully Divide Property
Spouses who seek DIY divorce often overlook key aspects of property division. For example, incomplete provisions may leave both spouses responsible for future mortgage payments. If one fails to pay up, the other may be left in the lurch.
Overlooked Tax Concerns
Divorce and taxation concerns go hand-in-hand. Evolving tax legislation makes DIY particularly perilous at this time. The wrong alimony or child support arrangements could leave you struggling come tax season. A skilled lawyer understands the sensitive tax implications of your divorce and can guide you accordingly.
DIY divorces are not nearly as affordable as you think. In addition to the potential tax implications outlined above, there’s also a risk of hidden fee structuring. For example, you may incur extra charges for serving divorce papers.
Divorce is complicated. A poor grasp of legal jargon could lead to major clerical errors, especially as you complete a mountain of paperwork. These issues may haunt you in months, years, even decades to come. Common issues include poor wording and check marks in the wrong boxes. Lawyers aren’t necessarily immune to these problems, but they’re far less likely to make mistakes.
The term ‘DIY’ implies easy, but divorce is anything but. An attorney can lift much of the burden of divorce from your shoulders. If you go it alone, you may face stress above and beyond what you’d experience in an attorney-guided divorce. This stress may prevent you from thinking clearly, thereby leading to even more clerical errors.
If you’re worried about the financial pitfalls of divorce, you can take comfort in knowing that affordable alternatives exist. For example, mediation for some or all of your divorce could lead to significant savings. Contact the Brown Law Offices, P.A. today to learn more about your options.
As parent, you can play an integral role in your child’s post-divorce recovery. Your support could spell the difference between a divorce disaster and something a bit more manageable. Follow these do’s and don’ts to show your support and keep the peace:
Right now, your adult child needs unconditional support and a shoulder to cry on. Make it clear that you are willing to listen to whatever your child has to say. Don’t pressure him or her to talk, but extend an invitation. By listening attentively to your child’s concerns, you can alleviate a great deal of his or her current mental anguish.
The last thing your child wants right now is to be hit with a fusillade of I told you so’s. There’s no need to explore how you would have done things differently or provide detailed instructions for the ensuing divorce process. If your child asks questions, answer honestly. Otherwise, stop playing professor and start listening.
Do: Tread Carefully In Your Relationships With Former In-Laws
If your child and his or her ex have children together, expect to see plenty of your former in-laws. When interacting with these individuals, resist the urge to take sides or act hostile.
If your child’s marriage did not produce children but you nevertheless enjoy a strong relationship with your in-laws, be careful. Your willingness to continue spending time with former in-laws could easily be misconstrued. Find out how your child feels about continued interactions before extending an olive branch to previous in-laws.
Don’t: Be Offended By the Timing of the Announcement
You may eventually discover that you were the last to learn of your child’s divorce. Don’t be offended; no matter their age, kids hate to disappoint their parents. Sometimes, it’s easier to test the waters with a friend or sibling before confiding in parents.
It’s never easy to see a child struggle, but as parent, it’s your job to provide much-needed support at this difficult time. A little compassion will go a long way.
If your child intends to divorce, the experienced Minnesota divorce attorneys at Brown Law Offices, P.A. can provide strategic guidance. Please call to schedule a confidential case evaluation.
Each new year presents fresh opportunities, but not everybody’s list of resolutions includes weight loss or household organization. For some, the end of the holiday season means a chance for new beginnings—including the pursuit of the single life. Hence, the rise in divorce during the month of January, as we explore below:
Divorce’s Uptick: The Signs
DivorcedWomenOnline.com founder Cathy Meyer observes an uptick in searches for divorce information immediately after the holidays. This leaves prospective divorcees just enough time to gather information before filing in early January. Reports from other divorce experts back up Meyer’s findings. Furthermore, statistics from eDivorcePapers.com indicate that January sees more legal breakups than any other month.
The Role of the Holiday Season
A clear link exists between January’s uptick in divorces and the timing of the holiday season. For many couples, it’s simply easier to endure a difficult, but divorce-free December than break the bad news during obligatory family gatherings. Some are less worried about upsetting loved ones and more concerned about their social standing—a lot of people frown upon December breakups.
In other cases, the stress of the holidays exacerbates already difficult circumstances, thereby making divorce more likely. Still other spouses believe that natural holiday stress could lead to a messier, less amicable divorce.
The Resolution Effect
Some people feel more confident when January 1st strikes their calendar. These newly assertive individuals may strive to fulfill relationship-related resolutions by finally calling their marriage quits.
Preparing For Tax Season
Divorce timing doesn’t always revolve around resolutions or holiday blues. Some couples are strictly practical. Their marital status on Dec. 31st determines their tax situation the following year. Some may rush to break off their marriage in hopes of making tax deadlines. In select cases, this decision can drastically impact taxation on end-of-year bonuses, which may come attached to January paychecks.
No matter your preferred timing for your divorce, it behooves you to seek representation from a skilled attorney. Brown Law Offices, P.A. can help you every step of the way. Please call for a free consultation: 763-323-6555.
Transparency—so we’ve been taught—shapes us into more authentic people and prevents us from getting stuck in rigid patterns. By sharing experiences online, we also help others know that they’re not alone. When you’re going through a divorce, this kind of collective therapy isn’t just healthy—it’s downright essential. Right?
Not necessarily. Social media is a double-edged tool. Even well-intended, polite discussions about your divorce on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere can profoundly affect your divorce case, and not in a good way.
Here’s what you need to know:
Sharing Versus “Oversharing”
When something happens to us in 2017, it seems second nature to let our friends and family know. We share personal and professional news, often accompanied by pictures. Unfortunately, oversharing on social media can have several negative consequences:
You create potentially admissible evidence. What you publish online could be retrieved during discovery to paint an unflattering picture. For example, a casual mention of a new job offer or a vacation may lead to an amendment of your Financial Affidavit, which can affect spousal or child support.
You could stoke anger, jealousy or other negative emotions. While Minnesota does not consider fault in a divorce proceeding, publishing pictures of you and your new lover snorkeling on the beach or clinking glasses at a fancy restaurant could enrage your ex-spouse. Bragging is in bad taste, and it can have indirect affects on your divorce outcome. For instance, your ex may react by dropping out of the mediation process, forcing a more public and expensive court battle.
You could undermine your case. If you’re claiming strained finances, but you’re posting Facebook updates of lavish vacations or nights out, the court (or your ex) might suspect you have hidden assets.
Do not post anything on social media that you would not share with the whole world. Even if your posts are “private,” they’re still in an online space, which makes them public information in the court’s eyes. Even Snapchats are permanent if someone snags a screenshot.
You may want to speak candidly about ex, but save that for dinner or drinks with friends. Do not use an online public forum.
Our Minnesota family law attorneys are standing by to help you make sense of your next steps. Get in touch today for a strategic consultation.
During divorce, couples split everything they own. No matter how financially stable most people were before divorce, they often walk away with less than half of their assets. Frequently, divorce negatively affects credit. It takes time, but you can make sound financial decisions to repair your situation following a divorce.
Cancel Joint Accounts
If you still have bank or credit card accounts with your ex-spouse, you don’t have control of your credit. Restructure mortgages and account balances so each debt is only in one person’s name. If you decide to leave any accounts open with both of your names, make a plan for monitoring transactions and payments. Missed payments will affect your credit score even if your ex-spouse agreed to pay them.
Find Out the Details
Make a plan to repair your credit by requesting a recent copy of your report from all three credit bureaus. AnnualCreditReport.com supplies a free report every year. If you’ve already used your free copy, obtain an updated copy from each bureau, or request it from FICO.com.
Your credit score contains three digits that predict how likely you are to repay debt on time. Reports will tell you if you have negative information so you can focus on what to do next.
Assess Your Debt
Evaluate your adjusted income and expenses to develop a realistic view of your situation. If you have the resources, start to pay down debt and eliminate past delinquencies. Sometimes following divorce, both individuals struggle financially, and paying off old debts isn’t possible. Work with a qualified consumer credit counseling agency and/or a trusted financial planner to analyze your situation and develop a plan for addressing bills. In some situations, it may be necessary to file bankruptcy.
Start Building a Positive Credit History
If you’re going to change your last name, do so before you apply for new credit accounts. Talk to existing lenders, and have them update your information so everything you do going forward helps build a more positive picture of your financial situation.
Obtain credit under your new name, applying for a secured card if necessary. Borrow a small amount every month, and pay it off in full before the payment deadline to start building a positive credit history. If you have trouble getting credit from the institutions you used to use, an online search can help you find cards for people with credit problems. Be sure to vet these cards carefully, pay your balances on time and monitor progress.
Talk to an Experienced Minnesota Family Law Attorney
Divorce comes with months, sometimes years of difficult decisions. Seek advice from qualified tax, legal and financial professionals. The Minnesota family law and divorce lawyers at Brown Law Offices have been representing clients since 1998. Contact us for a confidential, thorough case evaluation.
One of the most important aspects of your divorce proceeding will be the division of your property or assets. Generally, property that you and your spouse acquire during the course of a marriage will be considered “marital property,” so it must be divided fairly. For example, if only one person works outside the home, the law considers his or her financial resources joint marital property.
Assets aren’t the only thing Minnesota law considers joint marital property. Debts can be, as well. This can seem unfair, especially when one person runs up a debt without the other spouse knowing.
Is Gambling Debt Joint?
Gambling debt can prove to be an interesting case, as the non-gambling partner might not even be aware the debt exists. These debts can get very large, very quickly, so they often pose a problem in divorce proceedings. Additionally, the gambling partner may go to great lengths to keep their addiction a secret.
In theory, both parties might be liable for such debts, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more. If a gambling parent is expected to pay alimony or child support, this encumbrance may affect his or her ability to meet these obligations.
Impact on Divorce Negotiations
Finding out about a partner’s hidden gambling debt can further erode trust and make it more challenging to use an alternative dispute resolution approach, like mediation. After all, if you can’t trust your ex’s financial decisions—or rely on the accuracy of his reports—how can you negotiate in good faith? Consulting with a qualified divorce attorney right away can help minimize the damage and may even limit your liability for such debts.
Unfortunately, you may end up paying a portion of your spouse’s gambling debts. This seems fundamentally unfair, but consider it this way: what would have happened if your spouse won the same amount of money while gambling? It would be marital property and subject to equitable division. That is the court’s (general) reasoning behind shared debt.
A qualified attorney can work to ensure fair and equitable child support and alimony payments, even in wake of debt. For more information, contact the team at the Brown Law Offices for a confidential initial consultation.
Divorce law varies by state, and each state has its own idiosyncrasies. If you’re preparing to file for a Minnesota divorce, you may be surprised to learn about the follow peculiarities of our laws:
It Doesn’t Matter Who Is “At Fault” for Your Divorce.
Minnesota follows a no-fault system when it comes to divorce. That means addiction, affairs, and abuse are not grounds for divorce; a spouse need only show an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. The courts aren’t interested in your spouse’s misconduct when it comes to property division or awarding spousal maintenance, but bad behavior may affect custody and visitation arrangements. This also means that the person initiating the divorce does not automatically have an upper hand.
Are You a New Minnesota Resident? You May Not Be Able to Get Divorced Here.
Have you moved in Minnesota within the past six months? If so, the courts will reject your divorce petition. If this applies to you, you have two options: wait the six months and file again, or file in your previous home state.
Calculating Spousal Maintenance Can Get Complex.
In some states, only the unemployed may receive spousal maintenance from their partners. In Minnesota, however, the courts determine alimony differently. A holistic approach looks at the length of the marriage, the current standard of living, and each partner’s ability to pay.
Just Because an Asset is Titled in Your Named Doesn’t Mean You’ll Automatically Get It.
For example, Dave purchased a truck four years after he and Janet tied the knot. Although the truck is technically titled in his name, since he purchased it during the marriage, Minnesota law considers it marital property. This rule also generally applies to pensions, debt, and retirement accounts.
Divorce can be a trying time, and it’s best to approach the system proactively. An experienced Minnesota divorce attorney can help you navigate the process while protecting your best interests. Contact the skillful attorneys at Brown Law Offices for a strategic review of your legal options: 763-323-6555.
Divorce inevitably creates heartbreak. That’s an irreducible part of the process. But the extent of the mental and emotional suffering depends sensitively not just on the divorce process but also on what happened in the relationship itself.
If your spouse abused you emotionally—by demeaning your career ambitions, yelling at you for small offenses, jealously spying on you, or engaging in other horrific behavior—your road to recovery will be greatly complicated. How do you pick up the pieces? How do reclaim your self-esteem, begin to forgive, take care of yourself, and identify the patterns in your own behavior that enabled the abuse?
These aren’t just theoretical questions. They also could have significant bearing on your divorce case. Depending on the nature and extent of the abuse, your spouse’s access to your children could be limited, or you may need the court to protect you in the future.
Choosing to leave an abusive spouse is a brave, scary step. The legal system is designed to give you some protection and ensure justice. As a victim, you may be entitled to significant custody rights (and potentially even sole custody of children if the abuse was egregious); alimony and child support payments; and court orders that limit the abuser’s ability to contact, harass or intimidate you.
Nevertheless, be aware of the psychology potentially at work. For instance, it’s normal to want to make up excuses for an abuser’s bad actions and to feel guilty or sad (instead of relieved) when justice is done. In a compelling blog post, Dr. Joseph Carver writes: “In clinical practice, some of the most surprised and shocked individuals are those who have been involved in controlling and abusive relationships. When the relationship ends, they offer comments such as “I know what he’s done to me, but I still love him”, “I don’t know why, but I want him back”, or “I know it sounds crazy, but I miss her”. Recently I’ve heard “This doesn’t make sense. He’s got a new girlfriend and he’s abusing her too…but I’m jealous!” Friends and relatives are even more amazed and shocked when they hear these comments or witness their loved one returning to an abusive relationship. While the situation doesn’t make sense from a social standpoint, does it make sense from a psychological viewpoint? The answer is — Yes!”
Don’t expect this journey to be emotionally linear. There will be ups and downs as you adjust to being out of the relationship. A caring, intelligent counselor can help you work through these challenges, while your qualified family law attorney can assist you on the legal end of things.
Resources For Emotionally Abused Spouses
If you’re enduring emotional abuse or fear for your safety, there are places you can turn. Check out these resources here in Minnesota:
The Domestic Abuse Project offers counseling from professional therapists. They may also help you file an order of protection (restraining order) and find shelter away from your abusive spouse.
Minnesota Day One Crisis Hotline. By calling this hotline, victims can get the help they need from “day one”–not just when it’s too little, too late. Call 866-233-1111.
Filing for divorce after an abusive relationship may force you to leave your comfort zone, but we’re here to help. Please call our experienced, compassionate Minnesota family law attorneys to schedule a private call about your next steps at 763-323-6555.
Written by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury in 1981, the bestselling book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In has become a go-to resource for working through challenging negotiations. As it turns out, the “getting to yes” methodology can also be very helpful in mediating difficult divorce agreements. Below are some key insights that we can apply to divorce negotiations, based on the book’s five-point method.
1. Separate the people from the problem
When you view your ex as “the problem” or vice versa, negotiating a settlement becomes much more difficult. In truth, there are specific issues between you that are causing the split—not any one person. Focusing on the issues rather than placing blame takes you much further toward a solution that works for both.
2. Focus on interests, not positions
When you simply take opposing positions in a disagreement, one person “wins” while the other “loses.” Instead, try focusing on the interests of each person: what do you want in a settlement? What does your ex want? Is there any position you could take that could serve both interests?
3. Generate options for mutual gain
Once you’ve identified each person’s interests in the divorce, start imagining a number of alternatives in which both people stand to gain, turning a win-lose into a win-win scenario. This is key to turning combat into negotiation because both of your interests are now being served.
4. Insist on objective criteria
When contemplating the alternative solutions, you must base the consideration on an objective set of criteria. This is the more difficult part of the negotiation, because both parties will likely give up something they want. Here is where a neutral mediator can be most useful because he/she has no emotional investment in the solution.
5. Know your “BATNA”
Should negotiations fail or you find yourself losing too much ground, your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) is your baseline or safety net—the “worst case scenario” or default course of action you must take if you can’t come to agreement. Knowing your BATNA gives you a fair point of leverage in negotiations as the low point that both parties wish to avoid, helping you both stay motivated to come up with a better solution in the divorce agreement.