01. Family Law
Like we said before, there is more to family law than divorce. Check out Schull Law's family law services to see how we can help you.
If you are going through or facing a divorce, you are probably sorting through a lot of emotions as you split up with someone who has been a part of your life for a long time. Concerns about finances or retaining custody of your children can be overwhelming, especially if you are uncertain about how you will provide for the basic needs of your family.
You do not need to face this difficult process on your own. Seek the assistance of an experienced and understanding family law attorney who will guide you through the emotional, financial, and legal aspects of your divorce.
At Schull Law, we care about you and your children. We do not want you to get frustrated with the process and walk away from property, money, or child custody rights to which you are entitled. With years of legal experience, we will educate you about your family law options and guide you to the best decisions for your unique circumstances.
What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation?
A divorce and a legal separation are very similar processes where the parties divide their assets and debts as well as determine custody of their children. The primary difference is that with a legal separation, the parties remain married.
How is the divorce process started?
A divorce is started when one spouse serves the other spouse with a Summons and Complaint/Petition for divorce.
How long does it take to get divorced?
As you will often hear from lawyers, that depends. If both parties agree on all issues including division of assets and debts as well as child-related issues, the process can be relatively quick. It is possible to have a divorce completed within a matter of weeks. However, if there are contested issues that cannot be resolved between the parties, it could potentially take a year or more to obtain a court date and have a trial.
Whether you were married or committed partners, deciding who will receive custody of your children is one of the hardest decisions to navigate. Custody disputes can be complex legal matters that can overwhelm parents. While some parents believe that they are perceived as a "good parent" with a strong bond with their child(ren), this may not be enough to win custody.
Not all family law attorneys have experience in child placement but our attorney is experienced in dealing with matters regarding children of all ages. We can help you decipher what is best for you and your family in an unbiased environment when your emotions have overwhelmed you.
We are well versed in the laws that may affect your custody battle and will take you through every step so you are kept in the loop. As your advocate, our attorneys will present your case in the courtroom to create the best possible outcome for your family.
When should I look for a custody lawyer?
-If the opposite party has a lawyer.
-Your case has become complicated.
-You and the opposite party are no longer in the same jurisdiction.
-If you think your family may be in danger.
-Your circumstances have changed.
What is legal custody?
A parent with legal custody can make important decisions regarding medical care, education, and religion on behalf of their child. Legal custody can be awarded to one parent, or shared between both parents. If legal custody is shared, the parents will need to agree on any major decisions.
What is physical custody?
A parent with physical custody has the right to have their children live with them. Physical custody may either be granted exclusively to one parent or shared between both parents.
How is child custody determined?
In the event that the parents cannot agree on custody of their children, the Court will base its decision based upon the best interests of the children. Simply put, the Court will put the needs of the children above those of either parent. Courts will still consider each parent’s situation, but the basis of their decision will be on what is best for the children.
The basics: Child support is a form of support payment that is paid by one parent to the other, either after a divorce or between two parents who were never married.
But its more than that. It doesn't matter how ready you are for change, splitting up is tough. Between your emotions and finances, situations can become more complicated than you wanted and many family law matters lead to the assigning of child support. Whether you are the one paying child support or if you are the one receiving child support, you may need legal assistance.
How is child support determined?
In general, it is determined based upon the number of nights that the children spend with each parent. In Minnesota, both parent’s income is considered. In North Dakota, both parents’ income is considered only in the case of equal residential responsibility.
My ex-spouse and I have agreed to joint physical custody/residential responsibility. Does that mean that there is no child support?
Not necessarily. Child support is calculated based on both parent’s income in this situation. If the parents earn approximately the same, then there will not likely be child support ordered. However, if one parent earns significantly more than the other parent, it is likely that they will have a child support obligation even in a joint/equal custody situation.
3rd Party or Non-Parent Custody and Visitation
3rd Party or Non-Parent Custody and Visitation is the process where an individual, other that the parent of a minor child, obtains custody or visitation.
Can a non-parent obtain custody or visitation with my child?
The laws are a bit different between North Dakota and Minnesota, but the answer in both states is yes.
What does a non-parent need to prove to obtain custody or visitation with my child?
In North Dakota, a non-parent needs to prove that they are either a consistent caretaker of the minor child or have a substantial relationship with the minor child and denial of custody would result in harm to the child.
In Minnesota, a non-parent needs to prove that they are a de facto custodian or an interested third party.
Are a parent’s wishes considered when granting non-parent custody or visitation?
Yes, a parent’s wishes are one consideration in granting custody or visitation to a non-parent.
Parenting Investigations & Custody Evaluations
A parenting investigation/custody evaluation is the process where a neutral third party is appointed by the Court to conduct an investigation/evaluation and provide recommendations to the Court based upon the best interests of the children?
When is a parenting investigator/custody evaluator appointed?
Ideally, a parenting investigator/custody evaluator will be appointed early in your case. One of the advantages of an investigator/evaluator is reduced litigation costs. Quite often, an appointment of an investigator/evaluator will eliminate the need for a court trial.
How much does a parenting investigation/custody investigation cost?
That depends upon the complexity of the case and the issues involved. Additionally, each investigator/evaluator sets their own rates whether hourly or flat rate.
Who pays for the costs of a parenting investigation/custody investigation?
Generally, the parties are responsible for the payment of the investigation/evaluation. The amount paid by each party will be determined by the circumstances of the case and will be outlined in the Order appointing the investigator/evaluator.
Mediation is a process where the parties work with a neutral third party to resolve their disputes. The mediator facilitates the resolution of the parties’ disputes by supervising the exchange of information and the bargaining process. The mediator helps the parties find common ground and deal with unrealistic expectations.
Is mediation required?
In Minnesota, mediation is a voluntary process. In North Dakota, if children are not involved, mediation is a voluntary process. If children are involved in North Dakota, good faith participation in mediation is required.
Who pays for mediation?
In Minnesota and in North Dakota cases no involving children, mediation is paid for by the parties. In North Dakota cases involving children, parties are automatically referred to the Family Law Mediation Program which provides six (6) hours of mediation paid for by the State of North Dakota.
Is mediation a confidential process?
Yes. Any information gathered in mediation cannot be used in Court in the event than an agreement is not reached during mediation.
Parenting Time Expeditor/Coordinator
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Parenting Time Coordinators/Expeditors are specially trained professionals whose work focuses on helping co-parents manage their parenting plan, improve communication, and resolve disputes.
When is a Parenting Time Coordinator/Expeditor appointed?
Generally, a Parenting Time Coordinator/Expeditor is appointed after a judgment is entered in cases involving high conflict.
What is the role of a Parenting Time Coordinator/Expeditor?
The role of a Parenting Time Coordinator/Expeditor will vary based upon the needs of the family and what is ordered by the Court. A Parenting Time Coordinator/Expeditor may monitor that parents are complying with their parenting plan, to educate and offer recommendations on ways to solve issues, or to even make individual decisions for the parents based on what the court allows.
Why would we want a Parenting Time Coordinator/Expeditor appointed in our case?
There are many advantages of having a Parenting Time Coordinator appointed to your case. You are more likely to spend less time in a courtroom, it may help reduce stress on you and your kids, Parenting Time Coordinators/Expeditors are focused on making the right decisions for your children, and you will have more time to focus on your children.