Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Complex Family Law Issues" Video May Be Viewed Online

An episode of "The District Court Show" (Cable tv show) of which I am co-host may be viewed at this link:

Click "Community" and scroll to the District Court Show.  The program is 30 minutes in length and concerns complex issues in MN family law cases.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Divorce Ends Law Partner's Job Due to Contentious Nature of the Divorce: A Lesson For All Litigants

Below is a link to an article in about an attorney-partner in a big law firm whose career was left in shambles by a highly-contentious divorce.  This is precisely why judges support mediation and the "early neutral evaluation" process.  Judges frequently see cases of the rich, the poor, and middle-class spouses whose cases turn into a "scorched earth divorce."  What does that mean?  In war the enemy would often burn the crops of their opponent to starve them into submission.  Some divorce litigants, in the interests of vengeance and punishing the opposing party, with no understanding of the likely harm to the children, destroy their finances in their divorce.  They incur tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees through unnecessary discovery, frivolous motions, and an unwillingness to reasonably negotiate a settlement.  Who suffers?  Often the children for years to come.  Many end up in therapy.  This is all a real tragedy.

Much is being written about the baby boomers who are reaching retirement age with little or nothing in the form of retirement income other than Social Security.  I think one primary cause is this:  divorce in their 40's and 50's, with insufficient years of employment to recoup what was lost in the divorce.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"You Can Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later" TV Ad Applies to Hiring a Family Lawyer

Many years ago there was a tv ad the theme of which was "you can pay me now or pay me later." It may have been for car repair or something many people would try to fix themselves, but in any event it applies to the decision whether a party to a divorce or other family law matter hires a lawyer.  When I practiced law I saw it often, either from people who wanted to hire me a day or two before a hearing or trial, or opposing parties that sought a lawyer in "the eleventh hour."  I saw every trick tried then and I have seen it as a judge.  An unrepresented party hires a lawyer at the last minute and wants a continuance so the lawyer can get "up to speed" on the case, or because the lawyer has a scheduling conflict (perhaps intentional?).  A continuance, absent a real emergency, is usually unfair to the party and their attorney who has followed the rules and prepared, often at great expense, for a hearing or trial.  If the opponent will not agree to a continuance, rules of court generally require a written motion and hearing just about the continuance.

So if this is you, don't plan on the judge granting a continuance of the hearing.  It may not happen.

To clarify, the tv ad means to say you can pay the advertiser now to get it repaired right, or you can pay them (a lot more) later to try to fix the mess you created by "doing it yourself."  The same applies to family law, but the later may be too late.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

One-sided Property Division Agreement To Avoid Creditors May Be A Fraudulent Transfer

In a recent decision the Minnesota Supreme Court held that a particularly one-sided property division agreement may constitute a fruadulent transfer which creditors of the parties may seek to have set aside by the court.  Citizens State Bank of Norwood Young America v. Brown, 849 NW2d 55 (Minn. 2014)  MINNESOTA LAWYER has an excellent article outlining the implications to divorcing parties who may unwittingly fall within the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.  In Brown the wife was awarded by agreement the vast majority of assets and the husband most of the debt in a thinly-veiled attempt to shield their assets from creditors, including loans for their business.  The decision and article discuss the "badges of fraud", including that the Browns continued to live together after their marriage was dissolved.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Supervised Parenting Time (Visitation): Does Anyone Tell The Supervisor What the Rules Are?

Here is a link for judges and lawyers to a good article on supervised parenting time:

The author asks an important question: does anyone tell the supervisor what the rules are?  I have used a form from the State of Washington for supervisors to sign setting forth the rules and their duties.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Party Seeking Modification of Order Must Come to Court With "Clean Hands"

An equitable doctrine is "he (she) who seeks equity, and he (she) who comes in equity, must come with clean hands."  Hruska, 372 NW2d 709, 715 (Minn. 1985)  Cited in Alto, 2014 WL 4672404.  Therefore, a child support obligor who is tens of thousands of dollars in arrears in child support may find a motion for reduction in support unsuccessful because they came into court having failed to comply with the court's order, ie. with "unclean hands." 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Complex Psychology of the Battered Significant Other

It happens frequently in court: the victim of a domestic abuser refuses to cooperate with the prosecution of her assailant, or requests that the court dismiss a no-contact order, or asks the court to dismiss an order for protection.  I have had domestic abuse victim advocates and attorneys appear on my cable tv show and describe the complex psychology involved when victims recant and choose not to protect themselves.  I recall that it takes on average about 8 trips to court seeking protection before a victim will remain strong enough to accept the no-contact order.  Below is a link to a New York Times article about the Ray Rice matter in which there is discussion of the financial dependency on the assailant as being a factor.  Critics of the courts would be well-served to consider the psychology described in this article.