No one gets married and expects to find themselves going through a divorce. It affects everyone involved: the spouses, children, and can even affect extended family, like parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. It is an extremely emotional time when people are choosing a new direction for their lives and the lives of their children. While many divorces are amicable, there are just as many which result in more turmoil than expected. The idea that these two people once loved each other is a distant memory. Positive memories are sometimes buried under anger, bitterness and confusion. During this tumultuous time, the last thing you want to do is relive the details of the case, word by word, letter by letter. However, sometimes, in the name of fairness, that is the exact process which must occur. When it appears that justice has not been served in family court, or a mistake was made, it may be time to file a family law appeal.
Many times, when a case involves substantial assets it can be more litigious and take more time to reach a conclusion based on the merits. There are several guidelines when it comes to awarding monetary judgments in divorce cases in Minnesota. Child support is well-defined and calculated in accordance with the Minnesota Child Support Guidelines set forth by the legislature. However, spousal maintenance does not a have a calculator under Minnesota law and is a significantly greyer area of law. This grey area results in many different outcomes in spousal maintenance settlements or awards set by the court. However, sometimes if the parties do not understand the law or don’t have adequate representation there can be judgments or orders that are not consistent or fair under Minnesota law. When this occurs, many times, an amended order from the court will suffice. However, there are times when the court may not grant such an order or issues need to be analyzed once again. This is when a family law appeal is appropriate. Judges are people, and sometimes the court system makes a mistake. Therefore, this is why the Court of Appeals exists. To make sure there is a higher court to review and possibly correct the mistakes of a lower court, if they unfortunately happen to occur.
Typically, the most emotional and important issue in any divorce is the custody and parenting time of the child or children. This is when even the most civil of divorces can come crumbling down. For many, the importance of time spent with children is a matter of love and is invaluable. However, some also see it as an issue of control and opportunity for more money in child support. Assuming you want what is best for your child, you should aim to make this change in the child’s life as seamless as possible. This means allowing them to maintain relationships with both parents, keep their friends and schools if possible, and maintain an overall structure of predictability and comfort. This is the court’s goal as well. In Minnesota, determining child custody and parenting time schedules are evaluated under “the best interests of the child” standard. However, sometimes the court can only find in the best interests of the child if there is good evidence to support what is in their best interests. Many times, parents only present evidence that supports what is in the best interests of that parent, as opposed to what is in the best interests of the children. If this is the case everyone loses, especially the minor children. This is the other circumstance where a family law appeal may be in everyone’s best interest, if the court made an egregious error that is not consistent with Minnesota law or family law precedent.
First and foremost, divorce is a legal matter in which emotions need to be put aside. If you are going through this process, you need an attorney who understands the laws and will work to make sure everyone wins. Should you then find an appeal is the next step, you should trust your attorney to walk you through the process and make sure your child is protected along the way. To learn more about the different aspects of divorce, contact the family law experts at Lake Harriet Law Office at (612) 750-4843.