Family Law Cases Simplified

#understanding divorce, #custody, #Minnesota divorce, #Dakota Countydivorce, #divorceprocess,

Posted 10/2018

I find it easiest to understand the interplay of issues involved in divorces and other family law matters by acknowledging the three basic domains of issues that arise: legal, practical and emotional.

"Legal" refers to the lawsuit involved (divorce, paternity, custody, etc.) and the laws and procedures and local judicial trends that govern the final resolution.

For example, in Minnesota, the lawsuit starts when the opposing side is served with the beginning paperwork in the manner set out by statute and/or procedural rule. Filing with the Court must be done within certain time limits set by statute and/or procedural rule, and it is filing the case, the brings the Court in place to approve agreements or make decisions.

As another example, if the parties have children together, the law requires the Court to determine custody and parenting time. To determine custody, the law requires the Court to look at a number of best interest factors, use certain presumptions and explain the basis for its conclusions.

As a final example, the statute on property division states that the Court is to make a fair and equitable property division, taking into account certain factors. In practice, most judges in Minnesota will order a 50/50 property division. If a party wants to propose a 25/75 split, how likely is it that this judge with these facts will adopt your proposal?

"Practical" refers to the circumstances of the parties. Such facts make the difference between a workable, realistic solution and one that looks good on paper but fails in its implementation. Can the party who wants to keep the house qualify for refinancing to pay the other party a lump sum to use as a down payment on a new residence? Are the children likely to tolerate drives of 10 hours each way to exchange them for parenting time every weekend?

"Emotional" refers to the feelings that impact a party's readiness to focus on legal and practical issues as well as their feelings about certain issues. If a party does not morally or religiously believe in divorce, that party may have strong feelings causing him/her to avoid or resist the fact of the divorce. As another example, if a party who has focused on savings often feels that it is very unfair that those savings might have to be split with the other party who is a spender. Such feelings need are often taken into account in deciding how and when to move forward on the legal and practical issues and in anticipating the work necessary to move ahead on a particular issue despite the emotional state of the other side.

Throughout a case, the relative dominance of each of the above domains shifts as illustrated by the diagrams below. It can also shift within a certain issue such as for a dispute about spousal maintenance.

Possible scenario at the beginning of a case:

Scenario 1

Possible scenario with both parties ready to resolve the case:

Scenario 2