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Maple Grove Family Law Blog

Genetic testing and establishing paternity in Minnesota

Children born in Minnesota deserve to know who both their parents are, even if they are only being raised by one parent. While establishing parentage when a couple is married is easy, as it is assumed the husband is the child's father, for unmarried couples, parentage must be established to name a man as the child's legal father.

Sometimes, unmarried parents are in agreement as to who is the child's biological father, and will sign and file a Recognition of Parentage to establish the man as the child's legal father. However, sometimes, there are uncertainties as to the identity of the child's biological father. One or both parties may want proof that the man is the child's biological father, which can be done via genetic testing.

Is there a 'perfect' time to file for divorce?

Some people in Minnesota may notice that certain months of the year have more divorce filings than others. For example, one study reports that August and March see the most divorce filings, while others report that January has so many divorce filings that "Divorce Monday" is a common occurrence experienced by many family law offices.

Many of these popular months for divorce are based in part on emotion. People want to wait until after the winter and summer holidays to divorce, not wanting to disturb what should be a happy time for family. However, basing your time to file for divorce purely on emotions may not be the best idea.

Same-sex partners wishing to adopt may still have difficulties

Same-sex partners in Minnesota, just like any other couples, may someday decide they want to start a family, and some feel that adoption is the right choice for them. After all, adoption provides a means to give a child a loving home where he or she can grow and thrive.

According to some estimates, there are approximately 500,000 children in our nation's foster care system and 100,000 children in need of a permanent home, making same-sex adoption more essential than ever. In fact, as of the past 10 years, anywhere between eight and 10 million children are growing up in a household with two gay or lesbian parents.

Calculating child support using the 'income shares' method

The state of Minnesota, like every other state in the nation, recognizes that it is both parents' responsibility to provide for their child financially. If a child's parents are divorced or are no longer in a relationship with each other, this generally means that the noncustodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent.

Child support in Minnesota is broken down into three parts. First, basic support is meant to provide for the child's everyday expenses, such as clothing, food, housing and education. Gifts to the child do not constitute child support. Next, medical support involves providing the child with health insurance and dental insurance, as well as uninsured expenses. Finally, child care support includes costs associated with child care when the parents are working or when the parents are in school.

What is required if parents cannot agree on child custody?

Sometimes, despite their best efforts, parents who are going through a divorce simply cannot see eye-to-eye when it comes to making decisions regarding child custody and visitation. If this happens, they must take classes. Two are required, and then they have a choice as to the third.

One of the required courses is the Hennepin County Education Video With Mediation. This course comes at no cost to parents. It takes place at a number of locations and dates, and lasts three hours and 30 minutes.

Modifying a parenting plan in Minnesota

As discussed in the past on this blog, parents in Minnesota who have gone through a divorce, or are no longer in a relationship with each other, can work together to create a parenting plan, rather than have a court make a child custody and visitation order. However, life rarely stays static and there may be times when a parenting plan needs to be changed to meet the needs of one parent or the other, or to meet the needs of the child. Minnesota statutes recognize this, and address the issue of modification of parenting plans.

Parents who have created a parenting plan can make an agreement that modifies how much time they each spend with the child. They can also make an agreement that modifies the decision-making abilities of each parent. In order for such modifications to be enforceable, they must be approved by the court. Moreover, a modification of the time that each parent has with the child cannot be made more than one year after the entry of the decree unless the parents agree to do so in writing.

Cohabitation can affect spousal support in Minnesota

In the past, this blog has discussed what factors a Minnesota court may consider when awarding alimony. However, a law that took effect on August 1, 2016 may limit the circumstances in which an ex-spouse can receive spousal support if he or she cohabitates with another adult.

Under Minnesota law, an award of spousal maintenance may be modified if the spouse receiving alimony cohabitates with another adult after their marriage has been dissolved. This means the alimony award could be reduced, suspended or even terminated.

Minnesota fathers should be a part of their child's life

Unmarried fathers in Minnesota who are no longer in a relationship with their child's mother still often want to play an active part of their child's life. They want to go to special events such as their child's soccer games and dance recitals. They want to celebrate holidays and birthdays with their child. But even more, they simply want to have dinner with their child and then tuck their child in at night.

However, before an unmarried father can take the steps to seek child custody or request visitation rights, he first needs to establish paternity. The purpose of a paternity action is to establish fatherhood for legal purposes. There are a number of ways to do this. One way is to sign a recognition of parentage (ROP). After a ROP is signed, the father can seek custody or visitation rights. If an ROP is not in place, the father needs to file a court action to prove paternity, which may involve DNA testing. Of course, unmarried mothers who are seeking parental rights, such as child support, can also seek a paternity action.

What are some forms involved in a Minnesota divorce?

Minnesota residents seeking a divorce may want the whole process over with as soon as possible, so they can move on with their lives. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are lot of steps in the divorce process that must be completed before the divorce can be finalized.

Modifying an existing child support order in Minnesota

Sometimes, months or even years after a child support order is entered into, the financial circumstances of either the paying parent or the receiving parent have changed. For example, a parent may have lost his or her job or, on the other hand, may have seen an increase in his or her income due to a promotion or a new job. The child's financial needs may have changed too as the child grows older. For example, the child may no longer need child care during the day or the child may have incurred additional educational expenses. Whatever the reason, there are times when either the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent in Minnesota may wish to modify their current order for child support.

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