Everyone has heard the term "family law" before. But, the term doesn't do a good job of describing itself or what it includes. At some point in your life you may have wondered if you need a family law lawyer. Broadly speaking, "family law" doesn't describe a narrow specialty or area of the law, but instead the term refers to a broad range of legal issues that deal with family matters and relationships. It consists of different laws, rules, and court decisions that govern the legal rights and responsibilities between individuals who share a close connection.These relationships usually involve people who are related by blood or marriage, but family law can affect those in more distant relationship as well. Often times family law issues become more apparent when families or relationships are going through a time of transition. This could mean divorce or separation, or it could be a child custody, support or visitation dispute. It could be seeking protection from domestic violence. It could mean proactively defining a couple's legal rights before entering into a marriage relationship through an Antenuptial/Prenuptial Agreement. Or, it could mean seeking to expand a family through adoption, or wanting to establish a parent/child relationship in a paternity matter. The "family law" umbrella covers many legal areas which include but aren't necessarily limited to:
Often the largest assets in a marriage are the retirement accounts of one or both spouses. Retirement benefits are subject to division in a divorce. How the retirement benefits are divided depends upon a number of factors, such as whether the retirement benefit was earned or invested during the marriage versus before or after the marriage.
In a divorce the court will not only divide the marital assets between the spouses (the good), but will also equitably divide the debts and liabilities (the bad). When negotiating a division of debt, it is important to know which spouse is legally liable to the creditor for the debt.
Spousal maintenance (commonly referred to as alimony) is an award made during a dissolution of marriage (divorce) or legal separation proceeding whereby one spouse is ordered to pay the other spouse money out of future earnings to assist in providing for his or her needs. Spousal maintenance may be ordered on a permanent or temporary basis.
During your marriage, you may not have given much time to what assets belong to you, your spouse or both of you. You probably considered everything to be on a big pot that each of you could benefit from while you were together.
When you and your spouse married, the topic of a prenuptial agreement may never have crossed your mind. Maybe you felt you had no reason for such a plan, especially if you had little money and few assets. Perhaps you fully intended to write a prenuptial agreement, but the confusion and stress of planning a wedding put the idea on the back burner until it was too late.
If you and your soon-to-be former spouse are able to have reasonable discussions about the division of your assets as you approach your divorce, you are fortunate. However, there may be something you are overlooking. Just like the assets acquired during your marriage, the debts accumulated from your wedding day forward are marital property, and the court divides them equitably in states like Minnesota.
The holiday season will soon be upon us. This is a time of year that is filled with traditions such as holiday baking, special meals, gift giving, decorating, and gatherings of family and friends. As you reflect on the holidays you enjoyed as a youth, do memories of spending time with your grandparents make you smile?
Minnesota is a "no fault" divorce state, which means courts will not financially punish or reward a party when dividing assets and debts because of bad behavior during the marriage. Generally speaking, the courts will equitably divide the marital assets and liabilities between the parties. That means spouses need to understand what is marital property.
A dissolution, which is commonly called a divorce, is the most common way to legally end a marriage. If a judge grants an annulment, however, it is like the marriage never happened in the first place. An annulment can be granted on one of three grounds. The first ground is called lack of capacity, which means that one or both of the parties were unable to consent to the marriage because of mental illness, alcohol or drugs. If a party was forced or tricked into the marriage, that can also be grounds for claiming lack of capacity. The second reason a court may grant an annulment is called lack of physical capacity. This means that one party is unable to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other party was unaware of this incapacity at the time of the marriage. The third reason a court may grant an annulment is based on age. If one or both of the parties was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, and the underage party had not obtained the proper consent from a parent, guardian, or the court, the marriage can be annulled. Annulments and dissolutions of marriage are complex legal matters. If you have questions about an annulment or dissolution of marriage, stop in or call Derek Trosvig at (320) 763-3141.