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Minneapolis Family Law Blog

Minnesota divorce and retirement fund allocation

Some Minnesota couples who are going through a divorce may be surprised to learn that the portion of their retirement plans that is attributable to contributions made during their marriage may be considered marital assets. Unlike other aspects of property division, there are differences as to how these assets are to be allocated in the event of a divorce. Understanding how different types of retirement assets should be handled under the law can greatly reduce the expense and stress of the divorce process.

A properly-prepared Qualified Domestic Relations Order can help save federal income tax penalties when dividing up a spouse's 401(k), and once issued by the court it will need to be submitted to the plan administrator. An individual retirement account will require a transfer incident to be submitted to the IRA administrator in order to avoidtax penalties resulting from an early withdrawal.

Why prenuptial agreements make sense

Many Minnesota residents believe prenuptial agreements are distasteful or that they are the province of the rich and famous. There are multiple reasons why prenuptial agreements are a good idea for most people, and they can be treated as a blueprint for the expectations for the marriage instead of being viewed as a plan for future divorce.

Between 40 and 50 percent of first marriages will end in divorce, according to some estimates. Prenuptial agreements can provide protections for the spouses and allow their property division to go more smoothly if a divorce happens. While historically, men were the ones who drafted prenuptial agreements for their spouses to sign, they may also be good for women to draft as well. Women now are the primary income earners in about half of all marriages, and they would be wise to protect themselves.

New trend in prenuptial agreements addresses pet ownership

When a marriage ends, the love for pets continues. If a dispute over a pet erupts in a divorce in Minnesota, the animal will be treated legally as property and not a child although many people regard their pets as children. According to one divorce lawyer, a person asserting ownership of a pet in a divorce could have to prove it with documentation in court. Evidence would include records of who took the animal to the vet and paid for it and who originally purchased the animal.

Because both ex-spouses might have strong emotional attachments to pets, legal experts support the idea of establishing who a pet belongs to with a prenuptial agreement. Just like property and other assets, the agreement would spell out pet ownership in the event of a divorce.

Divorce and business ownership

Property division during a Minnesota divorce can be more complicated when one or both of the spouses own businesses . While many business owners think of their business assets as separate from their marital property, the value of a business is usually a factor in divorce settlements. During property division negotiations and court hearings, any business that a spouse owned during the course of their marriage is considered a marital asset.

If a person owned a business prior to marrying, the value of the business before the marriage may be considered the separate property of that spouse. When determining how to divide the marital assets, a judge may look at how much the business has grown in value during the marriage. The contributions that each spouse made to the company's growth will also be important factors for a judge to consider.

Child support payments to be paused for incarcerated fathers

Fathers in Minnesota who have child support obligations often fall into a debt trap when they are incarcerated. While in prison, most fathers are unable to continue making their payments, and many face going back to jail or prison if they can't pay off the debt once they get out of prison. Now, incarcerated fathers will be allowed to pause their child support obligations until they are released.

The new federal child support regulations were announced in October and will go into effect in 2017. To qualify for relief in child support obligations, fathers will have to file paperwork to prove that they are incarcerated involuntarily. There could be many fathers affected by this change, as one out of every five fathers in prison have child support obligations.

Rapists and parental rights

Many women are left with no choice but to face the men who raped them because they became pregnant and decided not to terminate those pregnancies. Minnesota families might be surprised to learn that the laws of their state and several others still allow rapists to exercise parental rights regarding the children who are born from their criminal acts. A father's right to have an active role in the life of his child is part of the law just like the rights of the mother. This means that many rape victims who carry their pregnancies to term often have to communicate with their attackers on matters regarding their children. Many of them are forced into shared custody with the rapists as well.

Although rape victims who become pregnant can terminate the pregnancies, they might have moral, religious or other ideals that prevent them from doing so. The laws of about 15 states offer no legal protections for these rape victims against being tied to the men who attacked them, which often leads to years of harassment, intimidation and manipulation as well as prevents the victims from recovering.

Prenuptials may be helpful in the future

As many Minnesota residents unfortunately have found out, a divorce may be a complex and emotionally charged time. Making decisions about how assets might be divided or whether or not spousal support is appropriate might add further to an already stressful situation. Taking steps before the marriage to protect assets can often help to avoid problems in the future.

One of the ways a couple that plans to get married might ensure that decisions are made before marital problems surface is to structure a prenuptial agreement. In this way, they may decide how marital property will be divided and whether alimony is an option. The amount of spousal support may also be agreed upon in the prenuptial agreement, avoiding disputes later. Sometimes, the divorce process may be protracted. Having a prenuptial agreement in place may help avoid a lengthy divorce process, letting the ex-spouses move on with their lives. It is, of course, advisable for the subject to be brought up well in advance of the wedding, allowing for a discussion if one individual finds the structure unfair.

The use of forensic accountants in divorce proceedings

Minnesota residents who are contemplating a divorce may be interested to learn that more and more people have begun using forensic accountants to aid with their cases. The more complex a divorcing couple's potential asset portfolio is, the greater the potential need for a forensic accountant to be involved.

In high net worth divorce cases, attorneys may consult with forensic accountants to help them determine the true extent of a spouse's holdings. It can be very difficult to understand the full extent of someone's portfolio without such investigation, particularly where there are assets such as investments, stocks, real estate property, and collectibles. Though concealing assets is often prohibited by law, this does not always prevent someone from attempting to do so in order to avoid relinquishing some assets to a spouse they're divorcing from.

Jolie and Pitt upset over possibly losing their daughter

Minnesota residents may have heard that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt may lose custody of their 10-year-old adopted daughter as her birth mother is asking for custody of the child. It was previously believed that the birth mother had passed away from AIDS, and she admits that she gave up the baby because she feared it could die due to lack of food.

However, she wants the child back so that her daughter can learn more about her true culture. Reports say that the stress of the situation has caused issues between Jolie and Pitt. Another issue is that another one of their adoptive daughters travels with Angelina Jolie while she does humanitarian work. Pitt does not necessarily approve as he believes it could put the daughter in danger.

Parental alienation and child custody disputes

Parental alienation syndrome is a term that some Minnesota parents who have gone through a divorce may unfortunately be familiar with. Coined by a psychiatrist in the 1980s, it is used to describe a situation that involves one parent turning children against the other parent after the couple has split up. Some judges have begun ordering children to attend therapy intended to counteract the effects of parental alienation, but this type of therapy is controversial at best.

Reunification therapy designed to treat this problem focuses on trying to deprogram children who were alienated from one parent during a divorce. Some therapists are concerned that the therapy may isolate children from the parent the child favors while attempting to coerce the child into accepting the alienated parent.