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Minneapolis Family Law Blog

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.

NBA star's ex seeking $12,000 per month in child support

Minnesota basketball fans may be interested to learn that NBA star Lance Stephenson returned to court on Sept. 3 to continue a child support dispute with the mother of his two young children. The report stated that the mother was seeking $12,000 a month in child support.

According to the mother's attorney, the $12,000 in child support would cover $3,000 a month for schooling and about $1,000 in groceries. The rest would be used to purchase furniture and to move out of her Bedford Stuyvesant home. Her attorney claimed that she wished to move the children due to safety reasons as gunshots were often heard at night.

Discussing finances before a marriage

While a prenuptial agreement is a legal document that can make dissolving a marriage easier on both parties if a divorce becomes necessary, many couples in Minnesota associate them with negative connotations. However, it is wise to consider potential issues before a marriage as a couple prepares for the future. Discussing financial goals and concerns can help a couple during a marriage, and this may make things less complicated if a divorce does occur.

Prior to drawing up an official prenuptial agreement, a couple might decide to discuss and plan for the future. This gives future spouses a chance to discuss their financial history, the way they view earning and spending money and their ideas for the future. Talking and sharing information like tax returns, bank statements and records of debt can help a couple figure out where they stand financially and how to best plan for future events.

Court rules Facebook posts can be used in custody battle

In a case that may be of interest to Minnesota parents, a New York judge has ruled that a Facebook profile may be used to determine the outcome of a child custody case. It is the first time social media profiles have been allowed as proof in such situations.

In the case, a Westchester County Supreme Court judge ruled that a father can use his ex-wife's Facebook posts to prove she does not spend as much time with the couple's 4-year-old son as she claims. The father, who is a social worker, says that he is the child's primary caregiver and alleges the posts will show his ex-wife frequently vacations in cities like Boston and Milan, Italy. In an attempt to keep the posts from being used as evidence, the ex-wife argued that she had "unfriended" her former husband and that her posts were private. However, the judge found that the contents of her profile and her posts could be material to the case and ordered her to turn over her Facebook login credentials by Sept. 14.

Child support jurisdiction when parents move

As Minnesota residents may know, child support is an obligation that often transcends geography. Sometimes, one parent may decide to move to a different state or the parent with physical custody of the child may move. In addition, the amount of child support initially ordered by the the court may need to be modified due to a change in circumstances for either parent. A question may arise as to what state has jurisdictional control over the modification of support.

This was illustrated in a New Jersey case. The parents and child initially lived in the state. In 1987, the parents separated and the father moved to Nevada where he filed for divorce. In December of 1987, the New Jersey court granted the initial child support order. The following year, the mother petitioned the court with a request for modification.

Divorce disability insurance now available for support payments

Minnesota residents who are facing divorce may wonder what will happen if the ex-spouse who is making support payments becomes disabled. While it's common for divorce courts to order that a life insurance policy be placed on a person who is paying spousal or child support to ensure that payments continue in the event of that person's death, little has been available to ensure payments will be made if a payor suffers an injury or disease that leaves them disabled.

Some white and gray collar jobs provide disability insurance, but these policies typically only cover 40 to 60 percent of an employee's salary. Further, blue collar jobs rarely offer access to any disability insurance, meaning that a disabled person must depend on Social Security to get by. Such a situation could make it difficult or impossible for an ex-spouse to maintain their court-ordered support payments.

Property division during a divorce

A couple married in Minnesota that later moves to a state with community property laws might experience some financial surprises in the event of a divorce. Unless a prenuptial agreement has already been executed, the court would divide the couple's marital assets equally. This equal division can be avoided if the parties agree to their own formula for separating assets, but, if one person has much to gain or lose, negotiations could stall and then a court would impose community property laws.

In general, community property applies to a person's business as well. A person could arrange to specifically exclude a business from community property with a post-nuptial agreement that excludes the spouse, but the spouse would have to sign the contract to make it valid. Retirement accounts also fall within the reach of community property laws, and they would be divided between spouses in a divorce even if only one person funded the account.

Actress Kelly Rutherford's child custody dispute continues

Minnesota residents might have heard about the lengthy child custody dispute between 'Gossip Girl" actress Kelly Rutherford and her ex-husband Daniel Giersch. The 46-year-old actress has been trying to get a judge to order her two children returned to the United States for the past few years. In 2012, a judge in California ruled that Rutherford's 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter should remain in Europe with their father until his visa problems were resolved.

Before the judge's order in 2012, Rutherford and Giersch were sharing joint custody. However, things changed when Giersch was denied entry to the United States, and a judge made the decision to award him physical custody. Although Rutherford has fought to regain custody, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled on July 23 that the state of California no longer has jurisdiction in the case.