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What Issues Can A Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyer Help With?

by | May 27, 2018 | Buffalo, Divorce, Firm News, Minnesota

Two innovations in California family law in the 1970s had an almost seismic effect on twenty-first century Buffalo MN Divorces.

In 1970, one of the country’s first no-fault divorce laws went into effect. Before then, a spouse could get a divorce, but only on evidentiary grounds like mental cruelty or adultery. Nationwide, the divorce rate skyrocketed through the 1970s and 1980s. It levelled off in the 1990s and has actually declined a bit since 2000.

Also, during the 1970s, California lawmakers approved the nation’s first joint custody law. Before then, divorced fathers had almost no rights whatsoever when it came to their children. Joint custody has its detractors, but it is still the standard outcome in most Minnesota divorce cases and the goal that most Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyers work toward.

Financial Issues in a Minnesota Divorce

The concept of no-fault divorce, which Minnesota lawmakers quickly adopted, had some significant financial repercussions. Since no one spouse was responsible for ending the marriage, it stood to reason that no one spouse should suffer financially due to the breakup.

The division of debts and assets is the most obvious area. As a rule, any property or debt acquired during the marriage, unless it was a gift, is marital property. Some people are surprised that something like a 401k retirement account is marital property, even though only one spouse made the financial contributions.

Classification is especially difficult after a long marriage because property becomes commingled. For example, Wife may use money from her paycheck (marital property) to pay off her student loans (non-marital debt). Upon divorce, Husband may be entitled to some reimbursement for those dissipated (gone) marital funds.

As for the division itself, Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. “Equitable” is not necessarily the same thing as “equal.” To bring about an equitable division, Buffalo divorce lawyers look at a number of factors, including:

  • Length of the marriage,
  • Relative health, age, and educational background of each spouse,
  • Noneconomic contributions to the marriage (the “homemaker factor”),
  • Custody of minor children, and
  • Any agreements between the spouses.

The spousal agreement factor is usually the most important one. Minnesota has adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. Under the UPMAA, any agreement which was mostly voluntary and not entirely one-sided usually becomes part of the divorce.

Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyers and Child Custody

The Gopher State has a joint custody law. But that law usually refers to legal custody, which is basically the right to make important decisions concerning the children. “Joint custody” also refers to the right of access. In most cases, Minnesota law presumes that it is in the best interests of the children for them to have ongoing, meaningful contact with both parents.

In terms of physical custody, the children usually “live” with one parent and “visit” the other one every other weekend, every other holiday, most of the summer, and some other days in the year. The division usually works out to about a 70-30 time split.

Much like property division, Minnesota judges can use a variety of factors to determine the best interests of the children. Some of these factors include:

  • Child’s preference as to custody,
  • Family and sibling relationships,
  • Any agreements between the parties, and
  • The current state of affairs.

That last factor is usually the most important one. Most judges like to keep the status quo in effect, even if it is not perfect. So, unless there are major problems or new evidence arises as discussed below, most Wright County judges keep the children where they are.

How Does a Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyer Resolve Your Case?

Only about 3 percent of the civil cases in Minnesota go to trial. Instead, a Buffalo divorce lawyer resolves most property divisions through mediation. The social study resolves most child custody disputes.

Minnesota judges usually order contested cases to mediation. The setting is both trial-like and quite informal. After each side gives a brief opening statement, the two spouses and their attorneys retire to separate rooms. A neutral third-party mediator, who is usually a local family law attorney, then convey settlement offers back and forth.

Mediation is at least partially successful about three-fourths of the time. If the parties cannot resolve all disputes, they can at least narrow the issues for trial. Either way, most litigants save time and money through mediation, which is why the forum is so popular.

If child custody is an issue, most Minnesota judges order a social study. A social services investigator prepares a report after extensive interviews, research, and other activities. The judge does not technically have to accept the outcome. But, as far as most are concerned, the social services report is basically gospel truth.

An attorney has no control over the outcome, but a lawyer can influence the process. The right social worker is perhaps the single most ingredient in the outcome. Some social investigators have a bias toward one parent or another. Others have a reputation for cursory examinations instead of in-depth explorations.



Buffalo divorces involve both emotional and financial issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Divorce Lawyer in Buffalo, Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Our attorneys have over fifty years of combined experience.