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Trusted counsel during divorce and child custody disputesIf you are experiencing the frustration of marital and family conflict, Merrigan, Brandt & Ostenso, P.A. can help. We have served families in Minneapolis’ west metro area for 50 years. We handle a variety of cases, including divorce, alimony, child support, child custody and visitation. Our lawyers understand the needs of families in crisis and work hard to make the process as smooth as possible.
Child custody and property concerns in divorce casesMarriages end for a variety of reasons, but the legal concerns during divorce (called dissolution of marriage under Minnesota law) are largely the same. Determining the children’s care and custody is the most complicated issue to resolve. For couples without children, property division takes precedence.
ChildrenParents must first decide on a child custody arrangement. In Minnesota, “legal custody” is the right to make decisions about how to raise the child, such as education, healthcare and religion. “Physical custody” involves day-to-day decisions, including where the child lives. Parents may share these responsibilities through joint custody, or one parent may assume sole custody. Divorcing spouses must also divide parenting time, generally by creating a visitation schedule enforced by the court.
PropertyMost property acquired during the marriage is “marital property.” While real estate is often the most valuable asset in a divorce, couples must also decide how to deal with vehicles, furniture, retirement accounts and even pets. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the court makes an “equitable distribution of the property.” This may not mean the property is evenly divided. Under Minnesota divorce laws, the court considers:
- Length of the marriage
- Any prior marriage of a party
- Age of each spouse
- Health of each spouse
- Life station and/or occupation of each spouse
- Amount and sources of income of each spouse
- Employability of each spouse
- Each spouse’s estate
- Each spouse’s needs and liabilities of each party
- Future opportunities to acquire assets
- Contributions during the marriage, including a homemaker’s contribution.