Minnesota Family Law | Divorce Lawyers

Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations.Our family law practice encompasses all aspects of your life and unique family situations. Whether you’re a single parent, a young couple look into adopt, a couple in divorce, a middle-class family, a farm family, or a grandparent, or anywhere in-between, we are able to help you make intelligent decisions and plan for both the unthinkable emergencies and inevitable life issues we all need to consider. With tailor-made plans developed to meet your goals and mindful of your family’s situation, we are able to assist you with your family law needs with care and compassion. At Hoffman, Hamer & Associates, PLLC our family law practice includes these areas:

Adoption

There are numerous different types of adoptions. Our firm is able to assist you with stepparent adoptions, international adoptions, and relative adoptions. Adoptions are one of the few times our clients come to us needing help with a joyous occasion and it is a great honor for us to be able to assist you in adding a new member to your family.

Alimony

Alimony (also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance) is an award made in a dissolution or legal separation of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. Alimony can take many forms – temporary or permanent, lump sum or monthly payments. Minnesota Statute 518.552 outlines the factors the court will consider when deciding whether to award alimony. Our office is well aware that alimony can be one of the most contentious issues in a dissolution. Whether you are seeking alimony, fighting a claim for alimony, or asking for a modification, our office has the experience to assist you in your matter.

Ante Nuptial Agreement

An ante nuptial agreement, also sometimes called a prenuptial agreement, or more commonly, a “pre-nup” is a negotiated written agreement where two people about to be married fully disclose their respective assets and liabilities and enter into a contract defining their rights and obligations to each other in the event of divorce or death. Minnesota Statute 519.11 governs ante nuptial agreements, as well as postnuptial agreements, which are similar contracts entered into by persons who are already married. Some individuals refuse to consider an ante nuptial agreement prior to marriage because they view it as a “license to fail” or “admission that divorce is a given.” We view ante nuptial agreements as a smart solution that encourages full disclosure and few surprises at the beginning of a marriage, and an orderly process if the marriage fails.

Child Custody

Whether child custody is addressed in the context of a divorce, or whether its addressed in a paternity proceeding between couples who were never married, child custody disputes are by far the most difficult and divisive issue most people will ever experience in their life. Child custody involves decisions regarding legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the “big ticket” issues of health care, education, and religion of a child. Physical custody involves the “day to day” issues of food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. The “best interests of the child” standard from Minnesota Statutes 518.17 necessitates a comprehensive and thoughtful examination of the past, present, and future family dynamic to determine the best custody options. Our office tries to develop and advocate child custody plans that encourage cooperation between parents, but when issues regarding alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence are a factor, we will zealously advocate our client’s interests and pursue a more restrictive child custody determination where appropriate to protect a child.

Child Support

Child support, which encompasses basic child support, medical support, and child care support, is defined by Minnesota Statutes Chapter 518A. Minnesota statutes require an analysis of both parties’ incomes to determine the amount of child support per a set of statutory guidelines. On its face, the formula is fairly simplistic to use; however, as in most family law matters, determining “income” can be difficult when people lose their jobs, are receiving unemployment, take part-time jobs, or work for cash. Child support; and the modification of child support, whether in the divorce context or a paternity action, is one of those topics where having a knowledgeable attorney by your side can make a dramatic difference.

Child Visitation

Child visitation, or parenting time, in family law proceedings, has more significance than ever, as the amount of time each parent has with a child has a direct impact on the amount child support paid or received. The “best interests of the child” standard from Minnesota Statutes 518.17 necessitates a comprehensive and thoughtful examination of a child’s day-to-day life to determine the best visitation or parenting time options. Our office tries to develop and advocate flexible child custody plans that encourage cooperation between parents, but when issues regarding alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence are a factor, we will zealously advocate our client’s interests and pursue a more restrictive visitation or parenting time plan where appropriate to protect a child.

Dissolution / Legal Separation

Dissolution of marriage proceedings, more often simply referred to as divorces, are defined by Minnesota Statutes Chapter 518. Dissolution of marriage involves not only child custody, parenting time, and child support issues, but also issues regarding the equitable, and not always equal, division of marital assets and debts. Our office can help you navigate this emotionally charged process. Not only are we able to provide resources allowing you to make informed decisions regarding the most difficult time in your life and your child’s life, but we can suggest options based upon our experiences that will increase your chances of reaching a satisfying result where settlement is possible. If settlement is not an option, then our office will aggressively advocate your interests in Court. Whether the dissolution is uncontested or contested, whether children are or are not involved, whether the assets and liabilities are simple or complex, our office will provide the same level of dedication to your unique situation. We can also assist you with legal separations, which address the majority of the same issues in dissolutions of marriage, but the end result is that the parties remain married.

Divorce

Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, as outlined in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 518, is the most difficult type of legal representation we provide to our clients. Our goal is to treat each client’s case with the same degree of respect and dedication, regardless of the complexity of that client’s case or the financial resources available. Divorce is emotionally charged and scary, plain and simple, and our office prides itself on our ability to thoughtfully analyze your unique situation, make recommendations, and advocate positions that make sense. We are essentially guides helping our clients to navigate the divorce process while at the same time empowering our clients and eliminating their fears whenever possible. If settlement is not an option, then our office will aggressively advocate your interests in Court. Whether the divorce is uncontested or contested, whether children are or are not involved, whether the assets and liabilities are simple or complex, our office will find a way to help you through your divorce.

Divorce Resources

In our office, we utilize a wide variety of divorce resources available to help our clients with the financial, educational, psychological, and even spiritual aspects of divorce or dissolution of marriage. We have associations and relationships with a number of custody evaluators, parenting time expeditors, mediators, accountants, financial planners, actuaries, psychologists, doctors, and clergy, that we can bring onboard to help you with particular issues you may experience in your divorce or dissolution of marriage. Our office handles the legal aspects of the divorce or dissolution of marriage, but we also realize our limitations, and can help you identify any other professionals necessary to address specific issues you may encounter in you divorce or dissolution of marriage.

Divorce With No Children

In our office, we often get asked whether we can represent both parties in a “simple” divorce or dissolution of marriage with no children. Our rules as lawyers prohibit us from representing both sides, but we are allowed to represent one side while working closely with the other side to find mutually agreeable solutions. If the other side does not have their own legal counsel, we try hard to be fair and explain why we take one position or another in representing our client. While not having to deal with issues relating to children certainly can make the process simpler, issues relating to assets and debts still have to be addressed so there is a still a large advantage in consulting with an attorney.

Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic abuse by a family or household member, we can assist you in getting an Order for Protection to protect you from further abuse. We recognize that this is a very difficult and sensitive issue, often involving close family members. We will do our best to make the process as easy as possible for you as we prepare the paperwork and appear with you at any and all court hearings.

Flat Fee

Financial resources are limited, but the need for competent legal representation in family law matters is greater than ever. For some types of family law cases, in addition to the free consultations for new clients and flexible retainer options we always offer, our office is proud to be able to provide legal representation on a flat fee basis to take your case from start to finish. We are also able to provide limited representation on an hourly basis simply to review the documents you prepare yourselves.

Gay / Lesbian Rights

Financial resources are limited, but the need for competent legal representation in family law matters is greater than ever. For some types of family law cases, in addition to the free consultations for new clients and flexible retainer options we always offer, our office is proud to be able to provide legal representation on a flat fee basis to take your case from start to finish. We are also able to provide limited representation on an hourly basis simply to review the documents you prepare yourselves.

Grandparent Custody

Grandparent custody is an extremely frustrating legal issue for people, who in an increasingly difficult economy or due to alcohol or drug-related issues, are often asked to step in and raise their grandchildren at various times during the grandchildren’s lives for frequent short durations or extended periods of time. The frustration often lies in the limitations of third-party custody under Minnesota Statutes 257C. Grandparents need sound legal counsel to protect themselves and to protect their grandchildren.

Grandparent Visitation

In custody and parenting time disputes, whether the parents were married or not, the courts are primarily concerned with addressing issues between mom, dad, and their children. In most cases, grandparents will be able to see their grandchildren during mom or dad’s parenting time. However, if mom or dad gets minimal or highly restricted parenting time, grandparents can be excluded from their grandchildren’s lives. Grandparents have rights of their own under Minnesota Statutes 259.78 or 518.1752, and can separately petition for their own time with their grandchildren. Our office has helped grandparents establish rights to see their grandchildren in highly dysfunctional family situations, when time between grandparents and grandchildren is in the best interests of the child.

Grandparents Rights

Grandparent custody and grandparent visitation issues are complex. In a society in which grandparents are relied upon more and more frequently by the courts and their own children to step in and raise their grandchildren, grandparents need sound legal counsel to understand their rights and obligations with regard to their grandchildren.

International Adoption

Our office is available to work directly with your adoption placement agency to finalize the legal process and complete your international adoption.

Modifying Custody

Modifying custody is often not as simple as many people believe. Many people often mistakenly believe that simply informing the court that their child now wants to live with him/her instead of the custodial parent will be enough for the court to modify custody. However, the child’s preference is only one factor the court considers when determining if it is in the minor child’s best interests for custody to be modified (if the court determines the child is of a sufficient age to express a preference). Minnesota Statute 518.18 sets forth the criteria the court considers in determining whether a child custody modification should take place. Our office has extensive experience assisting clients in custody modification cases and will gladly discuss your case with you and explain in further detail the statutory requirements.

Name Changes

If you are seeking a name change during the divorce process, your name change can be included in the final divorce decree at no additional cost. If you are seeking a name change outside of the divorce process, then it is a civil action for which a separate filing fee will need to be paid. For an adult seeking to change his or her name there are minimal requirements. Keep in mind that the court will not approve your name change if you have not lived in Minnesota for more than six months, if the court finds you are intending to defraud or mislead the court, or if you have certain criminal convictions. Our office is also able to assist you with changing the name of a minor child. Typically both parents should be in agreement on the name change and the court will have to find that the name change is in the child’s best interests.

Parenting Time

Parenting time, also commonly referred to as visitation, refers to the time that each parent spends with the child. Parenting time is often set according to a schedule as a result of a court order whether in a dissolution, paternity, or custody matter. The court’s main focus in deciding what parenting time schedule to order is the best interests of the children. The amount of parenting time a parent has is also factored into the amount of a child support a parent will pay. While we encourage parties to reach an agreement on a parenting time schedule that will be most beneficial for the children, we recognize that there are times when agreements cannot be reached. In those cases, we will advocate for your position and pursue a more restrictive visitation or parenting time plan where appropriate to protect a child.

Paternity

If two people were unmarried and had a child together, at some point one or both parties may want to address issues relating to custody, parenting time, and child support. Under Minnesota Law when two unmarried people have a child together, the mother automatically has sole legal and sole physical custody of the child. Therefore if the father wants to ensure that he has custody and parenting time rights he will have to petition the court for those rights. If the father has not signed a Recognition of Parentage, then he would have to start a paternity case as the issue of paternity has to be addressed along with custody, parenting time, and child support issues. If the father has signed a Recognition of Parentage, then the issue of paternity has already been determined, and he can simply file a petition to establish custody and parenting time. Whether you are the father or the mother, we have the experience needed to assist you through the process and resolve the issues in your matter.

Postnuptial Agreement

A postnuptial agreement, is similar to prenuptial agreement, or more commonly, a “pre-nup” is a negotiated written agreement where two people who are already married fully disclose their respective assets and liabilities and enter into a contract defining their rights and obligations to each other in the event of divorce or death. Minnesota Statute 519.11 governs postnuptial agreements. The primary difference between a postnuptial agreement and a prenuptial agreement is that both parties to a postnuptial agreement are required to have their own independent legal counsel review and approve the document.

Prenuptial Agreement

An ante nuptial agreement, also sometimes called a prenuptial agreement, or more commonly, a “pre-nup” is a negotiated written agreement where two people about to be married fully disclose their respective assets and liabilities and enter into a contract defining their rights and obligations to each other in the event of divorce or death. Minnesota Statute 519.11 governs ante nuptial agreements, as well as postnuptial agreements, which are similar contracts entered into by persons who are already married. Some individuals refuse to consider an ante nuptial agreement prior to marriage because they view it as a “license to fail” or “admission that divorce is a given.” We view ante nuptial agreements as a smart solution that encourages full disclosure and few surprises at the beginning of a marriage, and an orderly process if the marriage fails.

Protective Order

A protective order is typically either a harassment restraining order or an order for protection. An order of protection will protect you from a family or household member that has physical abused you, sexually abused you, made terroristic threats against you, or interfered with your 911 call. A harassment restraining order will protect you from any person (whether related or not) that has physically abused you, stalked you, or harassed you in some other way. Our office is able to help you in attaining either a harassment restraining order or order for protection in a quick and easy manner as we realize your safety and security is of utmost importance.

QDRO Qualified Domestic Relations Order

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, also known as a QDRO, is a document our office can prepare that sets forth the interest one party has been awarded in the other party’s employer-provided retirement plan benefits. There are very specific requirements for what needs to be included in the order which makes it all the more necessary to have an attorney assist you in drafting a QDRO. We will work with the employer that provides the benefits to make sure that the QDRO contains the appropriate language so that it will be approved and processed in a timely manner.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) is an award made in a dissolution or legal separation of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. Spousal maintenance is typically requested in cases where one party was a stay at home parent, has a disability, or has a much lower income than the other party. Minnesota Statute 518.552 outlines the factors the court will consider when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance. Our office is well aware that spousal maintenance can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Whether you are seeking spousal maintenance, fighting a claim for spousal maintenance, or asking for a modification, our office has the experience to assist you in your matter.

Spousal Support

Spousal support (also known as alimony or spousal maintenance) is an award made in a dissolution or legal separation of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. Spousal support can take many forms – temporary or permanent, lump sum or monthly payments. Minnesota Statute 518.552 outlines the factors the court will consider when deciding whether to award spousal support. Our office is well aware that spousal support can be one of the most contentious issues in a dissolution. Whether you are seeking spousal support, fighting a claim for spousal support, or asking for a modification, our office has the experience to assist you in your matter.

Stepparent Adoption

A stepparent adoption can only occur if the child is available to be adopted. This means that the other parent, if one exists, has to give written consent to the adoption or his/her rights must be terminated by the Court (if they have not been already). If the other parent refuses to consent or his/her rights have not been terminated, then the process becomes much more complicated. Our office is able to assist you throughout the entire adoption process no matter the complexity of the case.

Uncontested Divorce

In our office, we often get asked whether we can represent both parties in a simple or uncontested divorce or dissolution of marriage proceeding. Our rules as lawyers prohibit us from representing both sides, but we are allowed to represent one side while working closely with the other side to find mutually agreeable solutions. If the other side does not have their own legal counsel, we try hard to be fair and explain why we take one position or another in representing our client. We have considerable success in helping facilitate this process in a mutually agreeable way, making sure all of the assets and liabilities are accounted for and the paperwork is prepared correctly. Too often, because of lack of financial resources, husbands and wives try to navigate the divorce process themselves, and any mistakes made can result in delays or unforeseeable difficulties. Our office is able to provide legal representation on a flat fee basis from start to finish, or even on an hourly basis simply to review the documents you prepare yourselves.

We serve individuals and families in southern Minnesota, including Faribault, Northfield, Le Center, Waseca, Owatonna, and surrounding communities in the practice area of Family Law.

Call Hoffman, Hamer & Associates, PLLC today or use our convenient contact form anytime day or night.