Q & A: Increase in Child Support

Q & A: A client agreed in a divorce decree that she would not ever ask for a child support adjustment. The decree says that ‘if she does, any increase will be returned to the husband as an additional property settlement.’ The client now wishes to as for an increase in child support. Is there any authority for voiding such a clause or being granted a modification despite this clause in the decree?

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Social Science Update: Does spanking negatively affect children and families?

The answer to this question has changed over time. In the 1950’s, virtually everyone spanked and set strong rules for their children. In the 1960’s and 70’s, parents were more relaxed and trusted that children needed to learn by trial and error. Later, there was a phase of helicopter parenting that involved no corporal punishment. However, a 2013 Harris poll found that four out of five American parents spank their children. Why is this?

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Q & A: How should child support be calculated when the obligor's income is based on an hourly wage and commissions?

Q & A: When an obligor has an hourly wage and commissions, should the commissions be averaged over three years to come up with the gross income for a child support obligation? What happens when the opposing counsel insists on using income which includes the obligor’s best commission year to date?

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Social Science Update: Does a presumption of joint physical custody in the law make any difference in cases involving domestic abuse?

In 2011, social scientists looked at the effect of the 1997 change to Oregon’s custody law. The law changed to include the presumption that joint physical custody is in the best interests of the children of divorce. The study review 500 randomly selected files of cases involving children for three years before the change in the law and for five years after the change in the law.

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Social Science Update: What is effect of childhood stress on health across the lifespan?

In 2008, social scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study that looked at the effects of positive stress, tolerable stress, and toxic stress on children. The study looked at 17,000 adults of which almost 2/3 reported one type of stress and more than 20% reported multiple types of stress.

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New Law: In the spring of 2015, the Minnesota legislature made changes to family laws. It made these changes to address problems that practitioners recognized in the practice of family law.

Under Minnesota Statute §518.175, subdivision 6, courts appeared to lack the authority to grant make up parenting time in appropriate cases due to the way the statute used the word denial. The statute’s use of ‘denial’ seemed to contemplate an intentional denial of parenting time. A related issue was that the courts did not seem to seriously penalize parties for repeated and intentional denials of parenting time.

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Q & A: Is it possible to relocate out of state and take a child?

Q & A: A husband and wife have three small children in common. A divorce was granted recently. The wife received sole legal and physical custody with the husband’s parenting time reserved pending the outcome of a criminal case. The husband was just convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 1st degree against the wife’s fourth child and is now serving one year in county jail as a predatory sex offender with 30 years’ probation. He cannot currently leave the state without permission of a corrections agent. The wife wants to know if she can relocate to another state as soon as possible.

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Social Science Update: What is the influence of divorce on reports of and desires for maternal and paternal involvement in young adults?

In 2009, social scientists conducted a study that looked at 1,376 college students. The study used retrospective reports of the young adults: 25% from divorced families and 75% from intact families. The average age at the time of divorce was 8. Participants filled out questionnaires that assessed 20 domains of parental involvement. This included caregiving, companionship, and discipline.

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Social Science Update: What are the predictors of supportive co-parenting after relationship dissolution among at-risk parents?

In 2011, social scientists conducted a study that looked at nearly 5,000 mothers and 4,000 fathers who were dating, cohabiting, or married at some point during their child’s first three years of life. The scientists rated supportive co-parenting on a six item scale when the children were ages 1, 3, and 5. The scale measured cooperation, communication, and parents respecting and valuing each other’s parental roles. It looked at the current and prior relationship status with the other parent. The study also looked at the child’s temperament.

 

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Social Science Update: What is the relative risk regarding the timing of divorce in families of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

In 2010, social scientists conducted a study that looked at 391 parents of children with ASD. To qualify for the study, the families had to have a child that was 10 or older at the start of the study with an ASD diagnosis. The study consisted of two to three hour interviews in the home with the parents. The parents also completed phone interviews and written questionnaires.

 

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Social Science Update: What are the trajectories of internalizing, externalizing, and grades for children who have and have not experienced their parent’s divorce or separation?

In 2006, social scientists conducted a study that looked at 97 children who experienced divorce between the ages of kindergarten through grade 10. The scientists conducted in depth interviews with the mothers in their homes and looked at the children’s grades.

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New Law: In the spring of 2015, the Minnesota legislature made changes to family laws. It made these changes to address problems that practitioners recognized in the practice of family law.

Under the previous law, a problem arose regarding income tax dependency exemptions because there was a lack of specific statutory authority for allocating exemptions between parents. There was also a lack of standards to use when allocating dependency exemptions.

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Q & A: How can a parent best handle responses from children during a divorce to ensure the parent is setting a responsible and respectful example for the children?

First and foremost, it is always important take the high road in a divorce. In other words, operate in daily life under the assumption that each thing you say or do will be documented and shown to the Judge overseeing the case. To reach this goal, it is very important to share the following rules with your children and never reprimand them if they give you the following feedback:

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