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Lake Elmo Minnesota Legal Blog

Planning for co-parenting during the summer season

Parents in Minnesota may face some challenges adapting to co-parenting after divorce. It can always be difficult to move from parenting full time to sharing the process, especially after the parents' romantic relationship is no longer in place. For the children, changes in schedule and increased uncertainty can make the transition more troublesome. However, the school year can help smooth some of these concerns as it provides ongoing stability and a consistent schedule even as kids become accustomed to moving back and forth between their parents' homes. The summer can create its own challenges for co-parenting families, but parents can help to ease the process by keeping some tips in mind.

For starters, communication is just as important during the summer as it is during the academic year. The earlier that parents can work with one another to schedule vacations, family visits and other plans with the children, the easier the co-parenting process will be. When everyone involved knows what to expect, they can enjoy a more relaxed season. In addition, coordination is critical to parents sharing custody after divorce. Online shared calendars or posted visual calendars in both homes can help both parents and kids to keep track of planned events.

Beneficiary designations, IRAs and estate planning

Choosing the right beneficiary for an IRA is an important decision to make for people in Minnesota. Individuals who have no family may want to name a charity as beneficiary. Many people choose their spouses. A spouse who inherits an IRA has the same rights as the original owner, but no other beneficiary will. Other beneficiaries must begin taking distributions, which may have tax implications.

In some cases, a spouse may not need the retirement account. Some people may want to name their children as beneficiaries. Another option is to name the spouse as a primary beneficiary and the children as contingent beneficiaries. This gives the spouse the option of allowing the IRA to go directly to the children. Naming children as beneficiary per stirpes ensures that if a child dies, his or her heirs will get the asset.

Figuring out divorce-related alimony details

Alimony, or spousal support, is one of the big issues most people in Minnesota and other states associate with the divorce process. However, the exact needs of a lower-earning spouse after a marriage ends can't be determined until marital property and other joint assets are fully assessed and divided. Once it's clear what each soon-to-be-ex will end up with, the task of figuring out alimony details can begin.

While state laws concerning spousal support can vary, there are some common factors considered. In addition to the recipient spouse's financial needs, these factors include the paying spouse's ability to make alimony payments, the recipient spouse's previous lifestyle during marriage, the length of the marriage, and the age and overall health of both parting spouses. Courts also tend to consider whether minor children are involved and what non-marital assets a lower-earning spouse may have when determining if there's sufficient need for spousal assistance.

Consequences of DWI go beyond law

Duluth, Minnesota, Fire Chief Dennis Edwards submitted a letter of resignation and accepted a demotion after a drunk driving arrest in late March. Edwards will return to his previous position as assistant fire chief, and with it will take a substantial pay cut.

But Edwards’ story is not unique. Many people convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) will see consequences that go far beyond a fine, license suspension or even jail time. A DWI can affect your life in ways you might not have thought of.

Modifications and other child support considerations

When parents in Minnesota get divorced, the noncustodial parent might be ordered to pay child support. This obligation is calculated using factors such as income and child care expenses. However, there are several other considerations parents should keep in mind regarding child support.

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, child support will no longer affect taxes. However, the custodial parent is generally allowed to claim the child as a dependent on taxes. Parents who share custody could make other arrangements. Some might agree to take turns claiming the child on their taxes in alternating years. Parents who have two or more children could split their claims.

Facial recognition technology for shoplifters raises concerns

Many retailers in Minnesota and around the country are using facial recognition software to identify and ban people who have shoplifted from their stores in the past. However, privacy rights advocates fear the technology could be easily misused.

The use of facial recognition technology is rapidly increasing, and total revenue from the industry is predicted to hit $10 billion by 2025, a two-fold jump over 2018's total. Unfortunately, state and federal regulations are failing to keep up with the industry's growth, creating the potential for abuse of the technology. For example, some retailers using facial recognition cameras are already sharing digital records with other retailers in their network. This means that people who are banned from one store for shoplifting could be banned from all stores, making it impossible for them to shop.

Approaches to removing a name from a mortgage in a divorce

Minnesota couples who are divorcing do not always choose to sell their marital home and divide the proceeds. When one party plans to keep a home that has a mortgage, the loan needs to be refinanced in that person's name or assumed by the person when possible. Few people choose to leave both names on a mortgage after a divorce because liability for payments would remain the obligation of both people, including the one who is no longer living there.

Refinancing a loan could help a single party gain a lower home loan payment after the balance is amortized again for a 30-year period. Refinancing might be completed in 30 days, but the process includes all of the expected costs, such as loan origination and appraisal fees and title insurance.

Age and the likelihood of arrest

People in Minnesota and the rest of the United States who are younger than 26 years of age have a higher chance of being arrested than people who belong to older generations. This is according to a study that was done by researchers from a nonprofit research corporation that conducts public policy investigations. The researchers also state that the rates of arrests for women and white Americans are growing the fastest.

The study identifies links between the increasing rates of arrests and lower hourly wages, fewer weeks employed, lower family incomes and lower chances of being married. However, age was found to be another important factor in the findings. The arrest rates for adults whose ages ranged from 26 to 35 years were astounding as adults within that age range were 3.6 times more likely than adults over the age of 66 to have been arrested.

Uncovering financial secrets during a divorce

When Minnesota couples consider divorcing, at many times the trust has long since been broken. Tensions involving finances often help impel a couple toward ending their marriage. In some instances, spending patterns or excessive debt are issues, while in other cases, infidelity can also lead to financial decisions that prioritize another person.

In other cases, people want to hide assets in order to avoid dividing them in the divorce. In all of these types of incidents, however, people could learn a great deal by scrutinizing income tax returns. One person voluntarily overpaid the IRS by hundreds of thousands of dollars, planning to recoup the benefits later after the divorce. However, when his soon-to-be ex-wife reviewed their records with the IRS, she learned of the deception before the divorce was finalized. There are a number of tax documents that can shed light on a couple's finances, especially when a divorce is looming ahead. For example, W-2 forms not only contain each spouse's income but also withholdings for retirement savings, health savings accounts or other deferred compensation plans.

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