Divorce & Family Law

Not all divorces need to be painful. But I won’t let your spouse intimidate you and I won’t advise you to take a settlement that you will regret later.

I have handled dozens and dozens of family law cases, from complex divorces involving complex businesses and valuable assets and contested child custody issues to simple, friendly divorces with no children or assets.

I’m proud of my reputation for cooperation, understanding, and sensitivity (there is no need to hate your spouse after a divorce). But I’m also proud of my reputation for aggressive, forceful advocacy when that is necessary. I won’t let your spouse intimidate or take advantage of you. And I won’t advise you to accept a settlement that you may regret later—especially when it comes to custody of your children.

Frequent Questions about Divorce & Family Law

Q: How much will this cost?
A: I work for myself, not as big firm. You’ll find my fees are usually less than most other local attorneys. That’s because, while I will aggressively pursue your case, I don’t bill aggressively- other attorneys will bill you for short calls, travel time, even photocopies! I don’t do that. As a result, you’ll get a quality lawyer at a reasonable cost. Call me to discuss your case and I’ll give you an idea of the cost.

Q: How long will it take?
A: Divorce cases usually settle without Court action. All the issues, from child custody to division of personal property and real estate, can be negotiated with your spouse, put into an agreement that is signed by everyone, and submitted to the Court for a final Divorce decree. This usually takes 3 -4 months, but can be faster in some cases, or longer in more complicated cases. If the Court is involved, expect 6 to 9 months minimum, and longer in complicated cases.

Q: My wife wants me to move out of the house, but if I do, won’t I lose the case or be considered abandoned? What about bills? Kids?
A: If you move from the house before a divorce is started, it could seriously affect your rights to custody of the children. I suggest you call an attorney to discuss your case before you decide to move. Also, if you move out, your spouse could expect you to keep paying the household bills and other expenses during the divorce process, and you should expect to pay some support for the children. Call a lawyer for more specific advice.

Q: Child Support. Help!
A: The law in Minnesota requires parents to support their children, financially. It’s based on a formula considering your wages, the time you spend with your children, and medical and childcare expenses. If you have the children and your spouse isn’t paying, call me. If you are paying support and you feel it’s too much, call me.

Q: We agree on everything. Can’t we just write it up ourselves?
A: Yes. Minnesota’s court system has forms available for ‘do it yourself’ divorces. But divorce is complicated. Think about it: the library has books on how to fix your car’s transmission, too, but a book won’t help the average person fix your car’s transmission. It’s too complicated. Neither should you ‘write it up yourselves’ without consulting an attorney. When I first started practicing family law, I made a good living helping people ‘fix’ the divorces they had done themselves, because they had missed some important issues or made some big mistakes. It may cost you money now to hire a good lawyer, but it will cost you a lot more to fix a problem later. Call a lawyer now.

Q: Can we use the same lawyer?
A: No. Lawyers, believe it or not, have ethical rules. One of them prohibits us from representing 2 people who may have opposite interests. I will represent one or the other, but not both. But to save money, I would be willing to represent one spouse and explain everything thoroughly to the other spouse. At any time, the other spouse may get their own attorney. Call me for more information.

Q: I just want out, I don’t care what I get as long as I get the kids.
A: That’s understandable. But be careful. You may regret such a decision later. Don’t act in haste. Call a lawyer to discuss your case before you take any action that you may regret later.

Q: I’m the dad, why can’t I get custody?
A: You can. Dads often assume that they will not get the kids, because the Courts favor women. That’s not exactly true. I have won sole physical custody of the children for fathers many times. It’s based on a list of 13 factors the law requires the Court to consider before awarding custody. If those 13 factors indicate the father would be a better ‘custodial’ parent, then you will have physical custody of the children. Call me to explain further.

Q: I’m paying child support, can I claim kids on my taxes?
A: The IRS has rules that address this. You don’t get to deduct the children unless you provide more than half the support and you are the custodial parent (it’s a bit more complicated than that, so call me if you need a more detailed explanation). The only way to get around the IRS rule is to get your spouse to agree—either by signing an IRS form or by agreement in the divorce. That’s why I carefully include the income tax deduction in any divorce negotiation.

Q: Can I get alimony?
A: Alimony (spousal maintenance) is not as common as it was years ago, but there are plenty of situations where one spouse should pay the ‘ex’ money every month. Sometimes the Court will award ‘temporary’ alimony, to give time for the ‘ex’ to finish an education, for example. Other times, a permanent award is more appropriate. Alimony is a complex and tricky part of a divorce. If you feel you deserve alimony, you should have an aggressive, competent lawyer on your side. And if you feel you should NOT have to pay alimony, you need an aggressive, competent lawyer on your side. Call me for more details.

Q: This is so stressful. Can you help?
A: I’m proud of my reputation for handing divorce cases without unnecessary aggression towards your spouse. There’s no need to ‘hate’ your spouse after a divorce. Since the law treats divorce as a business relationship, it’s smart to have a lawyer who also understands difficult emotional toll a divorce can take on a person. I will make sure that you are treated respectfully, and I will make sure you do not make any decisions that are based on emotions without helping you understand the ramifications.

Q: My wife wants a divorce, but I don’t. I’ll change! I promise.
A: Minnesota has a “No-Fault” divorce law, which means that if one person wants to get divorced, there will be a divorce. But if you are willing to change, I suggest you talk to your spouse and get counseling. Talk to your pastor, or a trusted family member, or a professional. Divorce is complex, emotional, and expensive. If the marriage can be saved, don’t rush into a divorce.