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Contested Motion Hearings

Contested Motion Hearings

The complex and overlapping issues in a family law case can be resolved in a variety of ways, including by motions. A motion is a request to the court or judge to decide a particular issue in a case. When the other parties or attorneys contest the motion, a contested motion hearing is necessary to resolve the matter.

While filing motions is a common task for any lawyer, a skilled attorney can help you understand how and when filing or contesting a motion will be most beneficial to your case. The attorneys at Atticus Family Law have been successfully representing clients in a wide range of family law proceedings for decades and have helped many clients resolve their divorce and child custody issues in an effective and timely way.

What to expect from a Contested Hearing

If you have a child support, custody and parenting time, post-divorce, or spousal maintenance motion, the process you can expect is very similar to any family law case. We will use a combination of tactics to gather information about the case and then use that information to build a strategy for achieving a resolution that will meet your needs.

A motion will not require the work, time, and complexity of a case such as a divorce as there are fewer issues present; this means your case will be a more streamlined process that takes less time. With Atticus Family Law, the focus will be on the particular issues of the motion, the facts and circumstances that direct our goals, and development of the case towards a satisfactory conclusion.

Motions Can Be Used to Modify a Divorce Decree

After a divorce is finalized, one or both parties may have a change to their circumstances that justifies a change to the divorce decree. This can be caused by a new job that effects child support or spousal maintenance amounts, or one party deciding to remarry or retire. When one party may receive a lower payment, or be required to pay more, as a result of the motion, it is almost always contested.

There are many situations that can lead to a request to modify a court order or decree, but they all require that you show sufficient evidence that the change is needed. Proving this point can be difficult and requires in-depth knowledge of family law proceedings. Courts tend to assume the original agreement should remain in place unless compelling evidence shows otherwise. In addition, there may be strict time limits and deadlines for requesting a modification once your circumstances have changed.

Talk to a Minnesota Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Options

We bear in mind that no 2 family law cases are the same, just as no 2 clients are the same. In Atticus Family Law’s experience, each case has been unique with its particular details and we are well versed in crafting custody strategies for the needs of our clients. We use our years of family law experience to tailor our approach and strategy to the facts of each case so that our clients get the service and the results they deserve in their contested motion hearing or other legal procedure. We will work on your behalf so you can continue with your life as normally as possible.

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Personal Perspective From An Atticus Family Law Attorney

Five years ago, Wendy* came to the firm with a very particular set of facts. 1.5 years ago, she had been divorced with a daughter. When getting divorced she felt sorry and charitable towards her soon to be ex-husband. She knew his character and track record of dishonesty and yet she was too generous and had undue faith in his regard for the father-child relationship.

First of all, there were parenting time issues; if given to a judge they could have gone either way. The more pressing issue though was that her husband was awarded a condo in the divorce but the condo loan was solely in her name – and he had missed most all the payments in the last four months, which she had to borrow money to cover. She needed to remedy the credit issue without putting her daughter at risk. 

Once hired, we held a strategy session. Working with the client to identify all the facts and the key elements, we identified a two-phase strategy.

In the coming four weeks, we executed phase one. We invited her ex-husband to participate in mediation, which was successful; we came to a new agreement that not only served the child’s best interests as our client saw them, but removed any risk that parenting time was going to hinder phase two.

What followed was a very precise contested motion hearing strategy. With a comprehensive affidavit and numerous attachments, we made a tight argument to the court in this post-divorce motion to rectify his non-compliance. It sought to hold her ex-husband in contempt, asking the court to hold jail time over his head if he didn’t comply, ordering him to turn over the condo, allowing us to sell the condo and apply it to the condo loan and, after that to reimburse our client for the condo payments she had made on his behalf to preserve her credit, and an award of attorney’s fees. What followed was a hearing before a local district court judge, her husband turning over the condo and the keys, the sale of the condo, and my client being made whole.

How, you ask? In the decree, the parties had been ordered to alternate the tax dependency exemption for the daughter every year. We used the dollar value of that annual exemption in our request for the court transfer from him to her such additional future years that her increased tax refunds in those years reimbursed her for her total out-of-pocket expense, including attorney’s fees. While that was going to take time, there was no other way to make her whole given her ex-husband’s financial insolvency.

Some motion hearings are easily won because the law and statutes are on your side. And others seem like a toss-up where the attorney’s work made no difference. In this client’s case, it was neither. If the client had handled it on her own, there’s no reason to believe it would’ve turned out good for her and alternatively, it wasn’t a matter of the judge flipping a coin. This was a case where having an experienced, skillful attorney made all of the difference.  

Most of the time, when people make mistakes in their divorce, it is like scrambled eggs – it doesn’t matter which attorney you hire afterwards, the outcome cannot be unscrambled. In this instance, we were able to set right the legal relationship that she should’ve secured in the divorce.

– Matt Ludt
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