An Artist with Minnesota Ties Speaks to Young Adults About their Parents’ Separation

A relatively new book, titled Broken Circle- Children of Divorce and Separation, by Karen Klein, who graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, has written and provided the photographs for young adults who talk about their experience with their parents’ divorce/separation.  The link to its purchase can be found at //www.amazon.com/Broken-Circle-Children-Divorce-Separation/dp/1492892254/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389884855&sr=1-1&keywords=broken+circle+children+of+divorce+and+separation.  The book is beautifully photographed and lets the young adults speak in their own words about their experiences. This book does not have an agenda of disrespecting separating parents, but rather gives many perspectives from young adults about growing up with separating/separated parents.  Some view the separation as good, others do not.  In any event, it is a good reminder to parents that their actions impact their children’s lives far beyond preteen and adolescent years. This is a good book for family law attorneys to review and for mediators to consider having around so that parents can gain this perspective.  Mediation works much better if parents’ goals are aligned to lessen the negative impact of their separation on their...

Family Law Attorneys and Counseling Clients by Lisa Kallemeyn Coon Rapids MN Lawyer

  A now-retired judge from the Anoka County MN bench used to hammer at family law attorneys and their clients about their roles.  He would caution the parties against spending their children’s college education funds fighting with each other. Then he would turn on the attorneys, noting that in the ‘old days’, attorneys held themselves out to be ‘attorneys and counselors’ at law.  His admonition to attorneys was to ‘counsel’ their clients to behave correctly and to counsel their clients in their behaviors and attitudes and to provide honest assessments of what is likely to happen if their case is litigated.  “You’re not just a mouthpiece for your client’s position,” he would say.  “Your job is to get them through this.” I found an interesting piece about this in Dr Mark Goulston’s blog, Road Back from Hell (which deals primarily with depression issues). This blog was post dated January 31, 2013: This is how he defines counseling: Counseling – the role of counseling is similar to being a consultant, but assessing problems in life, work and relationships and proposing actionable solutions. I really do consider myself a problem solver, and when advising clients about how to speak to their ex spouses, I keep in mind that these people will always be parents to their children, and snarky comments or unreasonable emphasis on ‘rights’ don’t help these folks move forward to be good...

Spousal Maintenance Opinion…Lisa Kallemeyn Coon Rapids MN Attorney

For a little while, Minnesota divorce attorneys had access to a computer program which they could use to help negotiate whether one party was entitled to spousal maintenance and, if so, how much and for how long.  This program has long since disappeared, but I do remember keying in things like the years of marriage, the ages of the parties, the years one spouse was out of the workforce, the relative health of each individual, and their respective education levels and incomes.   This program was a tool and not a guideline.  Though Minnesota Statutes Section 518.552 lists the factors involved in an award of spousal maintenance, every family, every couple, and every judge is different.  I have been in the position as a mediator of watching couples with similar marriage lengths, income disparities, and education levels actually negotiate radically different spousal maintenance awards—and leave the negotiation satisfied (though not generally ecstatic) with the result.  As an attorney, I have pulled my hair out when a client either rejects spousal maintenance or agrees to pay what amounts to, in my opinion, way too much spousal maintenance. Back when many more cases were sent to trial, it was easier.  All I would do was remove the Anoka County judges (long since retired) who had clear opinions either for or against spousal maintenance.  Now it is much more complex and multi faceted.  I educate my clients in the law.  I send them to vocational rehabilitation specialists and to financial planners.  I have urged them to have a plan for their lives moving forward. But every case is different.  An attorney’s job is...

Divorce and Dignity

Much like a martial arts master will avoid a physical confrontation if at all possible, a good marital attorney will avoid involving the court if at all possible.  The best trial attorneys in Minnesota still settle the vast majority of their divorce cases prior to trial.   This is because settlements are good.   Although they rarely give the client ‘everything’ they want, the client is still able to move forward with dignity and knowing that the concessions made, painful as they were, were still their choice rather than a judge’s order. Both clients and attorneys should remind themselves that the parties cannot simply take a court’s order and move on without ever seeing their ex again.   Perhaps they are still raising their young (or not so young) children.  Perhaps they share the same social group and extended family.  Much if not all of the dirty laundry which is inevitable in contested family matters comes out in a trial and remains. Attorneys want their clients to receive the best outcome possible, but  most of the time this outcome can be achieved within a cooperative framework and without name calling or ‘dirty tricks’.  Good attorneys will separate the issues that appear to be resolved short of trial from ‘trialable’ issues.  They will settle the easy issues and then do their best to settle the hard issues too. Of course, sometimes a trial of all or most issues is necessary.  Some cases are so contentious (and may involve  active chemical dependency and/or certain personality disorders) that it is impossible to reach a reasonable timely agreement short of court intervention.  If this is the...
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