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Brainerd Minnesota Law Blog

Steps to prepare for the divorce process

People in Minnesota who are considering divorce may find it helpful to research state laws related to the process. By fully understanding what a divorce will involve, a soon-to-be ex can be prepared for the future. The decision to divorce can be difficult, and it is a life-changing event.

Once a person has decided to divorce, it's important to get organized. Necessary paperwork may include tax returns, mortgage information and account statements. One should pull copies of credit reports and close any accounts shared with a spouse. It's also important to think about personal and financial goals while creating a budget for life after the divorce. This information can be helpful during divorce negotiations. For example, reviewing finances and a budget can help a person decide whether keeping the marital home is affordable.

If you are recently divorced, consider reviewing your estate plan

As a general rule, you should review your estate plan periodically and make changes as necessary. You should be especially sure to update your plan after major life events, such as the birth of a child, purchase of a home, death of a loved one or even a divorce.

In Minnesota, divorce should remove your ex-spouse from some estate planning documents. However, it may be prudent to go through all your estate planning documents with a professional to make sure your ex is removed in all possible places and someone new is selected instead.

Discharging student loan during bankruptcy

Minnesota residents have likely inquired about discharging student loans. They may have found that student loans are not usually able to be discharged in a bankruptcy. However, as with all things, there are some exceptions.

It's estimated that in the United States, there are 44 million people with student loans, collectively owing $1.5 trillion. This means that student loans are the second largest type of debt in the United States, just after mortgages and ahead of credit card debt.

Wife's illness more likely to lead to divorce than husband's

Illness can cause significant stress in a marriage, and research increasingly indicates that it may make divorce more likely but only if the wife gets sick. Several different clinical studies have found that women are at a higher risk of divorce after they are diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses, but the same circumstances do not necessarily increase divorce risk for men. People in Minnesota should be aware of the potential ramifications of a diagnosis as they apply to the health of a marriage.

One study on the subject, conducted jointly by two American universities, examined 2,701 marriages to see how heart problems, strokes, lung disease and cancer impacted the relationships. The researchers found that women who were diagnosed with heart problems or who suffered strokes were at a higher risk of divorce than those who were diagnosed with lung disease or cancer. Men who were diagnosed with these diseases did not have the same increase in divorce risk.

Methamphetamine confiscated during traffic stop

Minnesota police took more than 32 pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop in Pipestone County on Jan. 6. The drugs were estimated to be worth over $200,000. Police initiated the traffic stop after witnessing a vehicle traveling 76 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone. Authorities discovered that the vehicle was not registered to the driver and that the insurance was in yet another person's name.

The driver was a 20-year-old male, and there was a 22-year-old passenger in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. Authorities say both gave inconsistent accounts of why they were in the state. Because the drugs found in the vehicle were worth over $200,000, the men were both charged with felony drug sale in the first-degree. If convicted of the crime, they could both spend up to 30 years in prison and face a fine of up to $1 million.

Managing a divorce following new alimony tax laws

When couples in Minnesota contemplate divorce, they likely think about how they will divide up their assets, who will have custody of any children involved, who will get the home or whether it's best to sell the home and then divide the assets. As of Jan. 1, 2019, divorcing individuals will face new tax guidelines that may impact how they go about making these decisions.

For more than seven decades, tax law stipulated that the money an individual paid to their ex-spouse as alimony was tax-deductible. Conversely, the money an individual received as alimony from their ex-spouse was considered taxable income. As a result of the changes in tax law, this will no longer be the case.

Where a parent lives may influence a child custody case

Where and how a parent in Minnesota or anywhere else lives could determine if that parents gets custody of a child. For instance, an older child may need his or her own room instead of sharing it with a younger sibling. If a father is asking for custody of his daughter, the parent may need to ensure that she has privacy while in the house. The same is generally true for a mother looking for custody of her son.

Space concerns may be raised by a judge if a parent has multiple children. However, the law does take into account that finding suitable and affordable housing can be a challenge in many locations. Therefore, some leeway can be granted depending on the other factors in the case. When making a custody ruling, the best interest of the child will always be considered.

DUIs, the Miranda Warning and the Fifth Amendment

You just got off work at the bar and had a tall "shifty" to complete the day. You get in your car and head home. The lake looks magical as a a white fog lifts from it and glows in the moonlight.

The reverie is broken by blue and red lights and a very loud siren behind you. You pull over. Flashlight in hand, the officer approaches your car. 

The responsibilities of an executor

Some Minnesota residents may not find out until a loved one's death that they have been named as the executor under the testator's will, while others learn this well ahead of time. An executor has a number of responsibilities that include paying creditors, filing tax returns and paying what is owed, locating assets and distributing them to beneficiaries. If there are debts, it might be necessary to sell some assets to pay them off. The executor also has a fiduciary duty to manage the estate effectively. The tasks can seem overwhelming, but an executor can seek assistance from professionals, such as a financial adviser and an attorney, if needed.

Executors who know ahead of time about their role should ask some questions. They should find out where legal documents are as well as marriage certificates, tax returns, insurance records and other types of paperwork. If an executor does not anticipate stepping into the role for years, there should still be an ongoing conversation about money and the estate. Over time, the estate plan may need to be updated as the family and the testator's assets change.

Credit card debt increases as default rates fall

It appears that consumers in Minnesota and around the country are taking on more debt as the economy continues to grow. Total consumer debt in the United States has grown for 16 consecutive quarters and is now approaching $14 trillion according to the New York Federal Reserve's second quarter Household Debt and Credit Report. However, consumers seem to be coping with this increased debt load as default rates are essentially flat and credit card delinquencies are actually falling.

The figures reveal that credit card debt grew by about $14 billion in the second quarter of 2018 while the revolving debt default index, which is based on figures from Standard & Poor's and Experian, fell from 3.86 to 3.56. This figure stood at 9.15 in April 2015. This suggests that American consumers are able to manage their credit card balances despite paying interest rates that average nearly 17 percent.

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