Category Archives: Family

People involved in contentious family law proceedings need to proceed cautiously …. They believe that mediation is only effective in family law cases under the..Family law news and headlines from around the web.

Family law: Re-focusing on the needs of the child

By Carolyn Laine

Something unique happened in Minnesota this year.

It had to do with how parents figure out child custody and parenting time after they separate. In about 5 percent of these cases, the courts need to resolve it for the parents. The law the courts use to make decisions becomes the backdrop for how parents are encouraged to work it out. Seldom is it easy for parents, but it is made more difficult if the law is unclear.

As times change, bringing changes in families and in parenting roles, the Legislature needs to make adjustments in family law. But that, too, is seldom easy.

Too often, the legislative fight over how to provide solutions to child custody, parenting time and child support is often a macrocosm of the difficulty parents encounter, with distrust, anger, fear and power plays interfering.

Such was the case in Minnesota — until recently. After more than a dozen years of battling, something different has happened.

In 2012, the usual legislative fight over how to make these changes resulted in a gubernatorial veto. But the governor also encouraged a collaborative approach between the warring sides.

A family court judge heeded the call to collaboration and brought in a mediator skilled in major public policy issues. The Child Custody Dialogue Group that formed agreed to side-step our entrenched positions and developed 26 principles we all shared. We then examined where the current family law and procedures did not match our shared principles.

More than a year later, in 2014, we passed through the Minnesota Legislature a few changes, including giving the judge permission to reserve a later re-determination of parenting time to correspond with the child’s changing developmental needs. The group continued working on deeper issues, and this work culminated in the 2015 legislative changes that are considered to be the most significant change in Minnesota’s family law in two decades.

The “Best Interests of the Child” factors lie at the core of family law, but we found them to be out of date. By re-focusing them more clearly on the needs of the child, instead of comparing parents, we hope this assists parents and courts in focusing on what arrangement going forth best meets the child’s needs in each unique family situation.

An important new factor to be considered in the 12 interrelated factors is the benefit to the child in maximizing time with both parents and the detriment to limiting time with one parent. This factor emphasizes the appropriately substantial participation of both parents in a way that benefits the child on a case-by-case basis. It reflects a shared principle instead of a contentious position.

We found a number of other places in family law that needed clarification. For example, there now are better remedies when a parent is not following court orders in such areas as parenting time, tax filing or income disclosures. As a reminder of the importance of involving both parents, the law now says the 25 percent presumption of parenting time is a minimum level. And the right of both parents to access school, medical and legal information is clearly identified right in the custody order.

Read full article – http://www.twincities.com/columnists/ci_28975783/carolyn-laine-family-law-re-focusing-needs-child

Top 5 Things to Ask Your (Potential) Divorce Lawyer

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While there are many things you should ask your divorce lawyer, you should really also ask yourself many things such as simply “do I feel good about him or her.” There is often not much time to decide upon which lawyer to choose, so your gut instinct may be your best guidepost. But to help you, here are some questions you can ask that might help you determine whether or not a certain lawyer will be a good fit for you.

5. Tell me how your fees work?
Any good lawyer should be more than willing to discuss his or her fees with you. Not just what their hourly rate is, but what could make the case more expensive and how to conserve costs. While it is impossible to predict what a divorce will cost (unless it is a flat fee because it is uncontested, or the lawyer is willing to set a flat fee, or flat fees based on certain criterion), a lawyer should be able to give you a general idea of what it could cost and why. If the lawyer won’t answer this, or does not answer this to your satisfaction, maybe that’s a bad sign?

4. Do you know my spouse’s lawyer, and what do you think of him or her?
While you may think it is good to hire a lawyer who already dislikes the other side’s lawyer, this is often the opposite of what’s in your best interests. Good lawyers know and respect each other and will try to move the case along with as little friction as possible. Of course this can be difficult, given the emotional nature of divorce, but adding a layer of hostility (lawyer to lawyer hostility) on top of the potential hostility between spouses is not a good thing.

3. Do you practice in other areas of law?
While some lawyers, especially in small towns, handle different types of law (often because in a smaller community they may need to because thankfully there is not enough divorce work to keep them busy full time), a lawyer who handles divorce every day, all day will have more experience than a lawyer of similar years in practice who also handles other types of cases. Plus, divorce is unique. It is one of the very few areas of law where the parties will often need to maintain a relationship after the case, so how the case is handled may well set the stage for the post-divorce relationship of the parties. Divorce lawyers know this and hopefully keep it in mind. Make no mistake, a lawyer who handles other types of law may be a great lawyer, and may be a great divorce lawyer, but the more you do something, the better you should be at it (although of course there are exceptions).

Full Article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randall-m-kessler/top-5-things-to-ask-your-_b_8240184.html