Courts place a lot of weight on the reports of Guardian Ad Litems, court appointed advocates for children who investigate and report on what is best for children. A guardian is usually the only neutral person who is not working for one of the parents that the judge will hear from. For this reason judge’s usually make a decision based on the guardian report. The problem with this system in Minnesota is that very little training is required to be a guardian, and there are almost no protections in place against guardians who are not doing a good job. Guardians receive 40 hours of training which is supposed to cover all aspects of the job, including the laws on custody and visitation, interview techniques, and evaluating physical and sexual abuse claims. 1 week is not enough to learn how to be a good child advocate. We need to either invest more resources in the guardian program and hold it to higher standards, or not use it as the basis for decisions about custody and parental rights.
Two words that have generated a lot of controversy. Clients tell me that they do not get enough support, or that they pay too much. Bottom line, kids cost money to raise, as a parent I have learned that. If your children are not living with you be prepared to pay money towards their support. Calculating the correct amount is important and can be more complex than you might think. If you have left a job and are making less money the court may do what is called impute income, meaning base support on your old job, not your new job. Imputing income is a complex issue, if you leave a job you do not like or that you cannot work without harming your family life be prepared for an imputed income argument. I have even seen judges order that a soldier who left military service at the end of their enlistment period and has a lower paying civilian job should pay support based on their military pay, even if they have a family and could be deployed to a combat zone if the re-enlist. I do not agree at all with that decision.
If you need help in dealing with a child support issue, please call Edward R. Shaw, P.A. at 218-825-7030 for a free consultation!
Bankruptcy gets rid of all your debt, except for house or car loans if you keep the house or car, and student loans in most cases. All other debt, credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans are called unsecured and are wiped out (discharged) when you file for bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, creditors are required to stop trying to collect the money from you – they cannot call, send letters, sue you, or take money out of your paycheck and bank account. If a creditor has already gone to court and gotten a judgment against you, the judgment stays on the books until you remove it, a separate step from the bankruptcy. Until recently, judgment removal was one of the few bargains left in the court system, it could be done for a filing fee of $5.00. Like most bargains, it did not last, now the court requires an additional filing fee of $322.00 to remove a judgment. If creditors are hounding you and you file before they get a judgment, you will save $322.00 per judgment in court costs. Every dollar counts, file soon and save a few.
Another benefit to filing bankruptcy, get out of a bad cell phone plan. If you are like me and not happy with the plan you have, but will get stuck with a big cancellation penalty if you leave, list your plan as a creditor in your bankruptcy and get a new plan. Getting out of a cell phone plan is not usually a reason to file by itself, but if you have other debt it can make the decision to file easier.
Today it was reported in the Brainerd Dispatch that a complaint against City Council member Gary Scheeler was dismissed by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). As reported in prior Brainerd Dispatch articles, Mr. Scheeler was represented by Ed Shaw of Edward R. Shaw, P.A.
Ed put a lot of time into this case and the outcome shows. It was noted by the OAH Judge that dismissed the Complaint that, “Czeczok has not presented any evidence that Mr. Scheeler fraudulently concealed his interactions with the woman and homeless man at issue. On the contrary, it appears Mr. Scheeler openly disclosed to the entire City Council and other city officials the existence of the facts that form the basis of the complaint.”
For more on this highly contentious case read the article in the Brainerd Dispatch.
Sounds like a great idea, do it yourself sometimes works for home and car repair, and saves a bundle, why not try it for legal work?
Experience makes do it yourself projects much more likely to succeed. It is easy to gain experience tinkering with your car or your house, but much more difficult if you are looking at a legal situation. Unlike our house or car, we cannot tinker with divorce until we figure it out, unless you plan on being married and divorced many times, which most of us try to avoid.
If you plan on do it yourself legal work, make sure you know what needs to be done, and can live with the consequences if it is not done right. If the stakes are too high for failure, and you do not have the luxury of trying until you get it right, do it yourself will not be a bargain.
One of those questions with a simple answer. Add the increased expenses of maintaining two households instead of 1, meaning both spouses standards of living almost always go down, to the the emotions of ending a relationship and you have an unpleasant experience. To add insult to injury, people have to pay for the experience, which in contested cases can mean a lot of money.
No attorney can make divorce a pleasant experience, but there are things that you and I can do to reduce the pain. Picking battles is important – it is worth fighting for the right to have enough time with your children to maintain a good relationship with them, or to keep them out of an abusive situation. Fighting over the furniture, or the stuff in the garage is a good way to increase your legal fees and emotional stress with little or no payoff. Advising clients when to make a stand and when to avoid a fight is one of the most important parts of my job.