Bowden Cyr, PLLC - Attorneys At Law

Oakdale Minnesota Legal Blog

Obstacles fathers may face in custody, support issues

Some unmarried and divorced fathers in Minnesota might face obstacles when it comes to paying child support and getting access to their children. For example, one father was jailed for not paying child support, lost his job and had to declare bankruptcy. Another was blocked from seeing his children by a protection order while a third did not get equal custody of his child from a brief relationship in which he was not married to the mother. Furthermore, most custodial parents are mothers, and some courts may tend to favor them.

Fathers who fall behind in child support should try to pay some of what they owe, and they may want to consult an attorney with assistance in asking for a modification. A modification does not change child support debt that is past due, but a court may lower future payments if there is a good reason such as the loss of a job.

Child custody and making the right choice for your kids

When parents decide to move forward with divorce, it can lead to significant upheaval and distress for the children. Even between two amicable Minnesota parents, it can be difficult to decide on the right choice for custody and visitation arrangements. In order to provide your kids with stability and lessen the chance for harmful disruption in their lives, it may be useful to learn as much as you can about custody and your parental rights. 

For many families, joint custody is a reasonable solution to child custody concerns. This type of arrangement can allow the children to maintain close contact with both parents, which is beneficial for their mental and emotional health. Whether you are pursuing a joint custody arrangement or want sole custody, you will need to understand legal custody and physical custody, along with what they mean for you.

Taking action to prevent dog bites

Animal bites can be dangerous to people in Minnesota and elsewhere, leading to severe injuries, lacerations and infections. When people fail to control their pets, the consequences can be disastrous for others; people have even lost their lives from dog bites and other attacks. Every year, around 4.7 million people across the country are bitten by dogs; of those, around 800,000 require medical treatment. While some people require stitches or bandaging, others develop serious infections as a result of animal bites.

The consequences can be particularly striking for young children: Over half of all bites to kids 4 and younger happen in the head and neck region. In addition, 400,000 cat bites take place each year, leading to 66,000 emergency room visits. There are several ways that people can help to reduce the risk of an animal bite and the resulting injuries. When greeting a strange dog or cat, it can be best to avoid extending hands because some animals view it as a threat. In addition, it's best to ask permission of the owner before reaching out to pet a cat or dog. The owner may warn against touching the animal if it is known to be reactive.

Police dog bites raise questions about K-9 training

Animal bites can cause serious damage, and this is definitely true for bites from trained dogs like those working with Minnesota police departments. In the past two years, one Minneapolis lawyer has had three major cases involving a police dog biting an innocent person near a crime scene. He noted that in these cases, the dog did what it was trained to do. The problem is that the victim was innocent. However, he noted that these cases are often different from residential dog bites in that they cannot truly be considered accidents.

In July, a St. Paul police dog bit a bystander on the forearm after breaking away from its leash and collar. The dog had been participating in a search for a suspect in the area. Officials have noted a need for change in policies after the incident, even though police have continued to say that dogs are partners in law enforcement. However, some question whether police dogs need to be trained to bite and how well training works to curb animal instincts.

Advanced safety systems may encourage dangerous driving

Automobile showrooms in Minnesota and around the country are filled with vehicles featuring sophisticated crash avoidance technology. However, a recent study from the American Automobile Association suggests that features like blind-spot monitoring systems, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control may be making the nation's roads more rather than less dangerous. Researchers from the advocacy group Foundation for Traffic Safety say that consumers may act recklessly behind the wheel of vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems because they believe that they are far more capable than they really are.

The AAA study was based on a poll of 1,200 consumers who purchased cars and SUVs in 2016 and 2017 that were equipped with crash avoidance systems. Researchers discovered that most drivers overestimated the capabilities of adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring systems and automatic emergency braking and were not aware of the limitations of this kind of technology.

Study examines driver education program for young people

Minnesota teens who get more exposure to the consequences of dangerous driving behavior, such as visiting hospitals and morgues, may gain a better understanding of the risk of some types of driving behavior. However, they may not necessarily change their own behavior over the longer term. Researchers who looked at a supplemental drivers' education program in Texas said that data from a follow-up two months later was inconclusive.

The study, which appeared in the journal "Transportation Research," focused on 21 young participants in the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program. The six-hour program took place in a hospital and included videos, lectures and development of a safe driving contract. At the end of the program, participants had a better understanding of the dangers of speeding and of how drinking and driving could be influenced by peers. However, there were only six participants in the follow-up questionnaire, and all said they had texted and driven while two admitted to speeding. Researchers said that more such programs were needed along with additional follow-up.

What can you do if a spouse is hiding assets in divorce?

Divorce is a complex and trying time for Minnesota couples of all income levels, but it can be an especially complex process for high-asset couples. When there are valuable assets and a significant amount of money at stake, it can be difficult to be reasonable and discuss these issues peacefully. Some spouses may even attempt to hide assets.

If you are facing the prospect of a high-asset divorce, you may have concerns that your spouse will attempt to hide assets in order to keep more marital property. This is unfair, and you have the right to fight back against these attempts. There are ways you can seek full disclosure and secure your rightful share of all assets and money. 

Getting prepared for a child support case

When parents in Minnesota head to court for a child custody hearing, they may be confused about what to expect and even intimidated by the process. However, people can be ready for their hearings by getting prepared in advance and learning more about what to expect. Preparation is particularly key when making a case for custody, and it can include factors from wearing the right clothes to being ready to present a logistical plan for the children's care.

For example, it is recommended to dress conservatively and in a business-appropriate fashion for a child custody hearing. Of course, dress style is no reflection on anyone's parenting abilities; however, wearing clothes appropriate for an office can send the message that a parent takes the hearing seriously and wants to make a good impression. In addition, parents should not only be able to speak about their love for their children but also about their practical plans. This means being able to demonstrate that an apartment has an appropriate, private place for the children to sleep, or showing that childcare plans exist while a parent is working. By bringing witnesses like babysitters or teachers, parents can also present reliable testimony from others about the parent-child relationship.

Divorce and business owners

Minnesota residents who own a business and are getting a divorce should expect that the process of dividing their marital estate will be lengthy and complex. There are a number of issues that arise when one of the assets owned by an individual is a privately owned business. It will be necessary to determine exactly how much the business is worth, if the spouse who owns the business is being completely truthful about the business income and if the valuation of the business will be impacted by any support obligations.

The value of a business can be determined by the market, income or asset methods. The first step for all of these methods is a thorough evaluation of the financial statements for the business. However, the discovery stage of valuating a business should not end there, particularly if there are spouses who do not participate in the daily business operations.

Later-in-life divorces can have specific financial concerns

More and more people in Minnesota and across the country choose to get divorced at later ages. While the divorce rate for all ages and demographics has remained flat or even declined, the rate among Americans over the age of 50 has doubled in the past two decades. There is a number of attributes that can distinguish these so-called "gray divorces" from their younger counterparts. In general, child support and child custody are not at issue, and many divorces among older people are quieter and more amicable.

The financial aspects of later-in-life divorces can differentiate them as well. Many couples have accumulated significant wealth over their years together, and the complicated mix of investments and properties can lead to a high-asset divorce. In addition, retirement funds are often some of the largest assets in a divorce at any age, but they can be particularly critical for people who choose to divorce at or close to retirement age. While there may be disputes about how these funds should be divided, the process can be complex even when both parties reach an agreement about the distribution of the accounts.

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Bowden Cyr, PLLC - Attorneys At Law

7825 3rd Street North | Suite 204 | Oakdale, MN 55128 | Phone: 612-254-6409 | Fax: 651-731-5496 | Oakdale Law Office Map