Minnesota Family Law QA (Part 2)
Q & A: Who decides what a child’s last name should be?
At the hospital, the mother can choose the child’s last name. The parents must agree to keep or change the child’s last name when they sign the Recognition of Parentage.
As part of a Paternity Adjudication, the court must make an order about the child’s name. If the parents do not agree, the court will decide what name is in the child’s best interest.
Q & A: What questions will I be asked in my divorce deposition?
An opposing attorney could ask any number of questions in your divorce deposition. Some are relevant to the facts of your case, and some are not. If you choose to answer the questions, all of your answers can be used in court. Here are a few topics that may arise during your deposition:
- Children: if your case includes a custody dispute, be prepared for questions about your children’s friends, interests, doctors, schools, needs, and health.
- Personal details: you may be asked about any personal relationships, clubs, or memberships you belong to and the roles they play in your child’s life.
- Marriage finances: your spouse’s attorney may attempt to discover if his or her client is entitled to your earnings. These questions may include whose money was used for different expenses during the marriage, how much your expected income will be in the future, whether your supported your spouse in the past, what you were making at the start of the marriage, and if you ever told your spouse that you did not want him or her to work.
- Employment: you will likely be asked what hours you work.
- Health records: you may be asked about your mental and physical health. This includes any insurance you may hold (life, disability, home/rental, etc.) and who is named as your beneficiary.
- Property: if you are splitting the furnishings of your home, you may be asked to read through your asset list and explain how you arrived at the estimated values.
The opposing attorney is looking for answers. The way you respond to a question can give the attorney more than just the facts.
Q & A: What qualifies as child support in Minnesota?
Child support is money the non-custodial parent pays to help support the children. Buying gifts, food, or clothing for the children does not count as child support.
Each county has a child support enforcement unit which will help you establish and enforce a child support order at zero or minimal cost. You can to apply for these services at your county offices.
The court will order a reasonable amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent. Minnesota law has guidelines that say how much support should be paid.
The court can also order either parent to pay medical insurance premiums or expenses and to pay part of child care costs.
The court considers the parent’s income or ability to earn income and the number of children supported. Starting on January 1, 2007, the court considers the income or ability to earn income of both parents. This way of calculating child support is called Income Shares. It still looks at the number of children supported and either parent’s children from previous marriages or relationships.
The court will also look at:
- The income, resources, and needs of both parents
- The needs of the children
- The standard of living the children would have if the parents had stayed together, and
- The amount of time that the parent paying child support spends with the children.
Failure to pay child support is not a reason to limit parenting time.
Q & A: Who can ask for a divorce under Minnesota law?
You must be a resident of Minnesota for 180 days (6 months) before you can begin a divorce proceeding. Members of the United States Armed Forces qualify if they have kept their Minnesota residence.
Either party can initiate a divorce proceeding, even if one party does not want a divorce.
Q & A: What is a dissolution of marriage? Is it the same as a divorce?
Under Minnesota law, divorce is called dissolution of marriage. Divorce cases are decided in family court. The court “dissolves” or ends the marriage when the final papers are entered into the court’s records.
These final papers are called the Judgment and Decree. The Judgment and Decree contains the court’s final decision on other questions too. These include custody, parenting time, child support, and division of debts and property.
Q & A: How are birth certificates related to paternity?
A birth certificate, by itself, does not establish legal paternity.
When the parents sign the Recognition of Parentage (ROP) in the hospital, the father’s name will automatically be on the birth certificate. If you sign the ROP after leaving the hospital, the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate.
You can add the father’s name through the MN Dept. of Health, Office of the State Registrar and there is no fee to update the child’s record.
Q & A: What is an annulment and how does it differ from a divorce in Minnesota?
A legal annulment is a decision by the court that the couple was never married. Some marriages are against the law, such as marriage between close relatives. Annulments are not necessary in such cases because, under the law, there is no marriage. Other marriages may be annulled by the court. For example:
- One of the parties was mentally limited, or
- One party was too young to marry, or
- The couple never had sexual intercourse.
The steps for getting an annulment are similar to the steps for getting a divorce. Most people need an attorney to get an annulment.
A legal annulment should not be confused with a religious annulment. For example, a Catholic may not be permitted to remarry in the church if the church has determined that the first marriage is null and void. This type of annulment is granted by the church, and has no legal effect according to Minnesota law. Likewise, a legal annulment or divorce may not affect how the church looks upon the marriage.