Minnesota couples get divorced for all kinds of reasons.  When it comes to understanding who gets divorced in Minnesota (and beyond) and why, here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Unrealistic Expectations – People are conditioned to think that marriage brings happiness.  They expect the beautiful home, white picket fence and automatic bliss.  Unfortunately, this is not always how life works. If the marriage turns out to be less than expected, maybe even a mistake, then divorce can seem like the only way to fix a bad situation.
  • Financial Priorities – Many couples do not discuss finances before marriage. As a result, conflict can arise if the spouses have opposing ideas about money and how to save it, spend it, invest it, earn it and more.  One partner might want to spend freely and live for today and the other might want to save every penny. If they cannot come to terms, then divorce can seem like a solution.
  • Loss of Intimacy – This can happen gradually as children come along, lives become busier and priorities change.  If one partner slowly becomes less romantic than the other, then the other partner might pull back.  Before too long, the couple is estranged and divorce seems like a way out.

According to the American Psychological Association, 40% to 50% of first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.  In Minnesota, the divorce rate is close to 50%, although it is starting to decline slightly.  The average first marriage that ends in divorce lasts about eight years, while the average second marriage that ends in divorce lasts about seven years.

Some groups divorce at higher rates than others.  For example:

  • Thirty-nine percent of men and 37% of women with a high school education or less divorce.  Twenty-eight percent of men and 29% of women with at least a four-year college degree divorce.
  • The divorce rate for blacks is about 42%, about 37% for whites and about 28% for Hispanics
  • Nearly 50% of people who marry before age 18 divorce.  Sixty percent of couples who marry between ages 20 and 25 divorce.  Twenty-five percent of people who wait until at least age 26 to marry eventually divorce.

If you are contemplating divorce, then contact us.  We will review your situation and determine the best path forward.  Our job is to protect your rights.

Minnesota’s Child in Need of Protective Services (CHIPS) Program targets children whose safety and welfare are in jeopardy. These children may face abuse or neglect by their caregivers or may be runaways or habitual truants. The goal is to provide services that allow these children to be safe in their home with their parent or legal guardian, or, if home is not an option at the present, then to provide services that will allow them eventually to return safely home from foster care or from some other shelter care facility.

Typically, a CHIPS case begins with an investigation by a county social services agency. If sufficient evidence exists that the child is in need of protective services, a petition is filed for determination by the court. A Summons and Notice of Hearing is then served on the parties named in the case. A hearing notice is also served on named participants. A “participant” includes the child, a parent who is not a legal custodian of the child, and current foster parents.

If the case is not resolved outside of court, it will go to a hearing where evidence will be presented and a judge will determine whether or not the grounds set forth in the petition have been proven.

If a child is determined to be in need of state protective services, a case plan is enacted with court oversight. The plan sets forth services designed to eliminate or prevent the need for removal of the child from his or her parent or legal guardian. If ultimately the provided services do not resolve the issues, the state may move to have the child permanently removed from the parents’ care through termination of parental rights.

There are extensive rules and statutes that apply to CHIPS cases. The specific rules and statutes applicable to an individual case depend on a wide variety of factors. To discuss the ramifications of these various rules and statutes, how they may affect you, and the benefit of having an attorney knowledgeable about such matters on your side to ensure your rights, please contact us.

Adoption can be an exciting and yet confusing process. There are many different types of adoption, including adopting a relative or a step-child, adopting through an agency, adopting a child you have been fostering, and international adoptions. Luckily, there are many sources of support for Minnesota couples looking to adopt.

If you are considering adoption, one place you may want to turn to right away is MN ADOPT. They provide you with information on adoption, including explaining what you can expect from a home-study, which is basically a report that gives the child’s social worker a portrait of the family.

Some families looking to adopt already have the child picked out. Perhaps grandparents are looking to adopt their grandchild, or a step-father is looking to adopt his step-child. Maybe you have worked as a foster parent, and you are hoping to adopt one of the children you have fostered. If, though, you are simply considering adopting, MN ADOPT provides information on children who are awaiting adoption in our state. In this way, you can find the child or children who will fit into your family perfectly.

MN ADOPT also provides help for families post-adoption. They have information about support groups for adoptive parents as well as support groups for children and adults who were adopted.

If you are looking to adopt, you may also want to be familiar with the adoption portion of the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s web page. You can find some of the adoption forms you will need as well as find information about adoption. As a couple planning on adopting, you may also want to visit Adoption.com. You can find Minnesota-specific adoption information as well as more generalized adoption information.

Having a variety of adoption resources available can make the process go smoother. At Beckman Steen & Lungstrum, P.A., we can also help answer questions about adoption in Minnesota and aid you in the adoption process. Contact us to learn more.

Have you found the love of your life and plan to get married? Before you take one of the most important steps in your life you might want to investigate the benefits of having a professional prenuptial attorney write a prenuptial agreement perfect in the state of Minnesota

A prenuptial agreement no longer has astigmatism of greed around it. They are in fact one of the smartest considerations that either party could make. Prenuptials are gaining favor for marrying couples. They see it as not just an agreement to protect and assets, but to answer issues not covered in a will such as death benefits and life insurance policies.

In addition, couples who have experienced the messiness of a prior divorce realize that working out many of these issues ahead of time can greatly simplify the process.

The laws regarding agreements are very complex in the state of Minnesota. We are one of the few states that don’t adhere to the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act. This means that the state will decide whether the agreement is enforceable.

They must conform to certain strict rules to make them correct, enforceable and legal by Minnesota standards. This creates the need for a competent and experienced lawyer paramount.

What prenuptial covers: Most all of the issues covered in a prenuptial are financial in nature. Included in the agreement are details regarding all assets acquired during the marriage as well as those personal assets from before the marriage. Mention of alimony and debt are covered as well as expenses, property, debts, inheritance or gifts.

Children: Prenuptials should not include any agreement to the care and custody of children. Minnesota courts disallow them and make decisions that are in the best interest of the child at the time of the divorce proceedings.

Same-sex couples: Minnesota has strict residency requirements regarding the dissolution of marital assets. This is especially true as it pertains to same-sex couples who married in another state. An equitable distribution of assets under Minnesota law doesn’t mean equal distribution.

Same-sex civil unions were illegal in Minnesota until 2013; therefore the rules are complicated. As a matter of course, the new laws have made the rules of same-sex unions the same as other marriage; this is now the same as in a prenuptial as well.

Conclusion: The courts decide if the agreement if monetarily fair to both people. The majority of assets can’t be allowed to one spouse if the other is significantly harmed. The court determines whether the prenuptial agreement is fair by looking at its result at the time of divorce.

As you can see the prenuptial agreement is intricate and complex. Your concerns will be assured by knowing that your best interests are our focus. We address a wide range of topics and specifications and assure they are correct.

The value of a prenuptial agreement is a consideration that shouldn’t be over-looked. contact us to discuss the right agreement for you and your spouse.

Divorce is a difficult topic to discuss, and when money is at hand, the difficulty increases. Here at Beckman Steen and Lungstrom, P.A. law firm, located in Minnetonka, Minnesota, we fight for fair spousal support that both parties can agree on and follow through with. However, deciding on how much money one spouse pays the other is challenging in that many factors come into play.

Length of the marriage

How long was your marriage? If you were only married for a few years, chances are the party asking for the support will not get permanent support. Rather, said spouse may receive rehabilitative maintenance, or temporary support. On the other hand, if your marriage lasted for a substantial amount of time, say thirty years, the recipient of the support will likely have more of a chance to receive permanent maintenance. The amount, however, can and will differ greatly.

Ability to pay

While a divorce is taking place, so is the rest of life; therefore, circumstances may arise during the process, such as a job loss or accident, leaving the party asked to provide the support unable to pay. The amount at hand will fluctuate due to circumstances as such. Likewise, if the recipient of the support is able to provide for his or her self without much support from the other half, the court may rely on temporary maintenance as the spousal support.

Recipient’s ability to work

We take a look at the education and the recipient’s ability to get a stable job. If the party requesting the support is able to live a comfortable life with a job, or if the recipient has a decent education that can get him or her a job, it is likely he or she will not receive permanent maintenance.

Many more factors are tied into the decision of how much and how long one spouse will support the other during a divorce. Contact us for more information.

Emotions run high during divorce proceedings. When you married, you hoped it would be forever. Now that you’ve decided to part ways, you are also choosing to part out your home and belongings. While they aren’t a possession to you, your beloved pet is one of the things you must consider. Choosing who gets Fido or Fifi is often one of the toughest decisions of a divorce. Establishing a pet custody agreement is an easy way to take the guesswork and stress out of it.

Most companion animals are still considered property. In the eyes of the law, they are the equal to a piece of furniture or artwork. Many organizations are working to have this changed. But for now, the situation will have to deal with emotionless facts. These are the questions that a judge or arbitrator will want asked and answered:

  • Who bought, adopted or came into the relationship with the pet?
  • Who spends the most quality time with the animal now?
  • If there are children in the home, are they attached to the animal? If so, where will they be living? Can the animal stay with them?
  • Once the household divides will there be ample space for the animal’s comfort and safety at each home?
  • Is it possible to divide the animal’s time between the two households in an amicable manner?
  • Who will be responsible for the animal’s expenses? These could include food, veterinary services, medicines, treats, training, grooming, walking/pet sitter, etc. Can an agreement be worked out to share in expenses as well as time?
  • Will the animal spend a lot of quality time with the person(s) they’re living with? Human interaction is of utmost importance.

Don’t forget that this is a major upheaval in the lives of your furry loved ones too. Every consideration should be made to ease their transition into the new normal.

To learn how we can help with your legal needs, contact Beckman Steen & Lungstrom, P.A. Families come first with us.

When it comes to divorce in Minnesota, property is divided into real property and personal property. Real property is real estate and land.  Personal property is everything else, including bank accounts, jewelry, investments and so forth.

Property is further divided into marital property and non-marital property. Under Minnesota law, any property that either spouse owned before the marriage is separate or non-marital property.  Marital property, on the other hand, is property acquired during the marriage.

A divorcing couple can divvy up the property themselves if they can agree about how to do it.  If they cannot, then the court will set aside the separate property and divide the marital property, real and personal.  In Minnesota, this means that the court must make a “just and equitable” division of the marital property. It does not mean that the division must be equal.

The debts are also split between the two parties. It is up to the court to decide if a debt belongs to one spouse or both.  If the debt benefited one party, then the judge might order that spouse to repay the debt.

When deciding who gets what in the divorce, the court considers a number of factors, the length of the marriage, previous marriages, each party’s age, health, current economic situation, future employment outlook and contributions to the marriage. If the marriage produced children, then the court considers the child custody arrangements as well.

If you are contemplating divorce, then contact us.  Our experienced, talented divorce attorneys will review your case.  Our job is to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

When faced with marriage dissolution, people often make quick and irrational decisions. However, when choosing a divorce lawyer, you should give the choice serious thought. Even a divorce that initially seems like it will be smooth can become complicated quickly. Therefore, when you choose your divorce lawyer, you should look for the best divorce lawyer. That begs the question: what makes a great divorce lawyer?

A great divorce attorney should focus on family law. 

There are many general practice law firms that will handle marriage dissolutions. However, if your law firm’s practice is divided up into multiple practices, then the firm’s attention cannot be focused on provided the best marriage dissolution legal counseling.

A great divorce attorney should be local.

Family law, the area of law that covers marriage dissolution, is based on common law and impacted by State statutes. Therefore, if you live in Minneapolis and are getting a divorced, you should get a Minneapolis family law attorney. A national law firm will not be as familiar with the local laws as a local attorney and will need to devote more time and resources to researching the relevant law to your case. A local attorney will also be familiar with the customs of the local court and the preferences of local judges.

A great divorce attorney cares about you and your family.

Divorce is a very difficult process and involves painful emotions. A great divorce attorney sees you as an individual needing effective counsel, not as a payout. Look for an attorney who is compassionate to your circumstances but willing to fight for the equitable dissolution that you deserve.

If you are faced with the prospect of divorce and are looking for the best divorce lawyer in Minneapolis, please contact us for a case evaluation.

By now, many of you have heard the case of the Minnesota mother, Anmarie Calgaro, who is suing her transgender daughter as well as St. Louis County, the child’s school district and a couple of healthcare providers.

At the center of the dispute is the mother’s claim that the child underwent gender reassignment treatment and therapy without her consent. The minor child in question is 17 years old and will not turn 18 until the summer of 2017.

The woman also states that the medical providers and the child’s school will not release any records to her.

The minor’s attorneys, school and physicians have stated that the transgender female is emancipated from her mother and is not required to notify or get permission from her mother for any medical decisions.

Ms. Calgaro is requesting that the court reinstate her parental rights so that she can block the child’s attempts to continue with reassignment procedures.

This case is a bit complicated because mom is asking that the court reinstate a right that the court never took away. This is because Minnesota does not have a process for minors to emancipate themselves. In fact, that word does not even exist under Minnesota law. The court does not issue rulings on emancipation matters and all that is required to be considered emancipated is that the child is not living with the parents (there is no minimal time period specified) and is making their own personal and financial decisions. That’s it.

The minor provided the court a letter to the court via her attorney that she drew up with the help of legal aid. The letter declares her emancipation from her mother.

The girl’s attorney and physicians state that the child has not lived with the mother for a period of 6 months and during that time the mother has not reached out the girl nor tried to return her to the home. She was not reported as a runaway or a missing person to authorities.

The outcome of this case is being watched closely as an outcome in the mother’s favor could be seen as a catalyst for change of the Minnesota abortion laws regarding minors. Under this law, a minor cannot undergo an abortion without notifying their parents and then they must wait 48 hours before going through with the procedure. Anti-abortion supporters are anxious to use this as a tool to have the current law changed.

For assistance with emancipation matters or any other legal family matter, please contact us for a consultation to discuss your case.

A commitment between two people through marriage, whether straight or gay, carries with it a promise and pledge to love and support one another.  For whatever reason, couples drift apart, and the bond deteriorates.  Divorce is often the only recourse to move on in life.

Gay marriage may seem harder to terminate since it was a controversial issue for so long.  Same-sex marriages were not allowed nationwide, and divorces could not be granted unless the couple lived within the state recognizing such unions.  Recently, same-sex marriages became federally recognized throughout each state. Even after such a contentious fight for legal rights, gay marriages often result in separation and gay divorce.

As with any divorce, the process can be grueling and stressful for both parties, and even more painful when children are involved.  Dividing assets reasonably leads to harsh words and often, a war zone between the parties involved.  Five tips to keep in mind for a more stress-free resolution are:

  • Avoid reflecting off of negativity. Being involved in a divorce automatically creates fear, anger, denial, self-doubt, hurt and confusion. Such emotions and negativity will undoubtedly make life and the process more difficult.  Base your choices and decisions on what is best for you and avoid running your life on fear and negative emotions.
  • Whatever the cause of your gay divorce, it is a legal process placed in the hands of your highly competent attorney working on your behalf. Do not take the process personally, but separate your negative, fearful emotions. Divorce is indeed painful and engulfs both parties with resentment, sadness, anger, and anxiety when thinking about your future. This is a time to shift your thoughts and focus on your partner and marriage as you knew it, and put you first, envisioning a new and better future moving forward.
  • Create a support system for yourself rather than handling the stress of gay divorce on your own. Along with the advice and aid of your attorney, also consider further help with therapists, financial analysts, mediators and divorce coaches who can assist you with a much more prosperous  Aside from professional help, ensure the love and support of family and friends. The process of divorce itself is a personal matter, needing your full attention, but through it, all, a support system, professionally and personally helps to keep your focus on a positive note with a brighter future.
  • Determine what your values in life are and ensure you do not lower your self-worth. Are your personal values love, contribution, family, your achievements, and health that makes you who you are.  Everyone has their unique self-worth, essential for happiness and tranquility.  Compromising your values causes demise within relationships. Stand up for your values so you can do what is right for yourself with self-confidence.
  • Move through the gay divorce process with a sense of feeling proud of who you are. Consider what your new life will be like after the process is complete, with a vision of purpose and success on your own.

We at Beckman Steen & Lungstrom, P.A. are here to help make the process as smooth and personal as possible, with your best interest at heart.  We do our best to work for the best resolution, mediation, negotiation, and as stress-free of an outcome as feasible.  Call us for a free 30-minute initial consultation with your concerns, and we will determine the best solutions to your satisfaction.