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Same-sex parents: Do you have parental rights?

There are a lot of different ways that same-sex couples can have children. If they are two women, they can adopt, have a child through a sperm donor or have a fertilized egg from another mother placed in the womb. There are other options, and many available for two males as well. The more complicated problems, however, arise when same-sex parents decide to divorce.

Depending on the way the child came into the couple's lives, one parent may have a stronger claim to custody than the other. That's because one parent might be viewed as a stepparent. In cases of adoption, it might be that only one parent's name was listed as the adoptive parent in the paperwork. In cases of artificial insemination, the biological parent may be the only parent listed on the child's birth certificate. In these situations, the other parent could face serious challenges if he or she wants to have custody and/or visitation rights following a divorce.

What's a living together contract?

In the eyes of the Minnesota family law system, marriage is viewed exactly as a legal contract between two parties in which it is understood -- based on the terms of marriage under the law -- what both parties owe to one another. This, and the responsibilities that come with it, apply to the spouses as parents of shared children and as individuals who are part owners of shared assets and liabilities.

Interestingly, the marital contract is not the only type contract that people can define their relationships with. There also exist "living together" contracts and "nonmarital agreements."

Factors that affect the adoption process

Although the adoption of a child involves one or two adults formally acquiring guardianship and parental rights over a child, at Berg, Debele, Desmidt & Rabuse, we have seen that the circumstances under which an adoption occurs can be very different. These differences can dictate the legal strategies that are required to ensure that the adoption is successful.

Following are some common circumstances surrounding adoption that family law attorneys see in Minnesota:

Legal separation and informal separation in Minnesota

There's a difference between legal separation and informal separation in Minnesota. This article will discuss the primary difference between the two, in addition to describing what legal separation is and how it works in more detail.

With informal separation, two spouses will simply live apart. The date of informal separation is particularly important because it marks the day that any additional assets (or debts) accrued by the spouses will be considered as individual property as opposed to marital property. In this respect, it affects asset division proceedings. 

489 Minnesota children looking for homes right now

There are so many loving Minnesota families with room for a child, and many of these families are actually looking for a child to adopt right now. For those who are looking to adopt, there is no better time than now. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Service, there are currently 489 children in our state's group homes, foster homes, residential treatment facilities and emergency shelters. These children are looking for adoptive parents who they can call "mom" and "dad."

Our state's emergency shelters and foster homes are offering a great service to these children, but these are not homes where children are supposed to grow up. These children need loving families, parents, brothers and sisters, and safe homes that tuck them in at night and make them feel special and loved.

Do teens need parental permission to get sex-change treatments?

A Minnesota mother filed suit last Wednesday after her 17-year-old son began receiving sexual reassignment treatments without garnering her permission. The lawsuit names two governmental agencies, saying that the agencies and medical clinics have infringed upon her parental rights. She says that the agencies and medical service providers did not obtain a court order to emancipate her child prior to administering the sex-change treatments against her wishes.

In the lawsuit, the mother's counsel has highlighted the difference between the rights afforded by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Minnesota's child emancipation law that allows medical service providers to administer care to minors without first obtaining a court order. Her attorney argues that the right of due process offered by the 14th Amendment is violated by the Minnesota law.

University of Minnesota shares its gay marriage exhibit

The University of Minnesota created a special exhibit honoring America's first gay marriage, and now the exhibit is being loaned out for display in other states. The University of Minnesota Library's GLBT studies program was responsible for the exhibit, which is part of its Tretter Collection.

The exhibit honors the same-sex union of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who traded vows back in the 1970s in Minnesota. The same-sex love union is seen as the first legally recognized gay marriage in the United States. The display, which is now on loan at the Rochester Public Library in New York, includes photographs and other documents from the marriage of the two men, dating back to their marriage on Sept. 3, 1971.

Same-sex marriage: Should you tie the knot?

We all know about the many benefits of same-sex marriage, and simply from the standpoint of equality and civil rights, the fact that same-sex marriage is now the right of all gay couples is something to be celebrated. However, just because it is now legal for gay couples to get married, it is not a good reason for partners to run to make a beeline to their local churches and courthouses to tie the proverbial knot. There are benefits and drawbacks of being married and both should be considered.

Let's look two of the most important drawbacks of marriage in general that gay couples should keep in mind when weighing the pros and cons of legally solidifying their unions:

Cohabitation can be grounds for maintenance revisions

In Minnesota, a spouse may be told to pay maintenance during a divorce. Called both "alimony" and "spousal support" in other areas, this is simply money paid by one spouse to help support the other. It's often used when that spouse was expecting to be supported and can't do so alone.

For example, if one spouse had a job, gave it up to get married and start a family, and cannot get back into the workforce 10 years later, maintenance may be requested.

When did same-sex marriage become legal in Minnesota?

In the summer of 2015, a landmark case called Obergefell v. Hodges came to a close. The Supreme Court was overseeing the case, and they ruled on June 26 that same-sex marriage couldn't be banned on the state level. This led to a lot of changes to marriage law around the country as states that still made it illegal had to update their laws.

However, Minnesota wasn't among their number. This wasn't because there was any resistance to the federal ruling, but simply because Minnesota had been leading the way in same-sex marriage laws for years. These unions had been made legal in the state back on Aug. 1, 2013. The federal law simply fell in line with what Minnesota was already doing.

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