Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Peaceful cases & High Conflict
Attorney Tricia Dwyer: Trusted, Confidential, Reliable, Prompt, Assertive, Super Care. In most cases, Attorney Dwyer is the only lawyer involved; she knows this is Your Divorce, Your Family, Your Life. Attorney Tricia Dwyer has been rated 'Superb' and Perfect Reviews multiple years (Avvo).
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MISCELLANEOUS LEGAL QUESTIONS & ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWERS
Legal question: I share legal & physical custody with my ex-. Our divorce legal papers are really, long -- bunch of lawyer lingo. I just found out - late August!! - that she's unenrolled out daughter from her grade school & presumably enrolled her in school is area where she recently moved to. I don't want this to happen again.
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Sounds very upsetting. A starting point question I'd ask you is how old the child is - big difference if this is a 16 y old vs. 10 y old. Based on what you wrote, it sounds entirely reasonable that you would want to take the lawful, proper action steps to avert any 'repeat of history'. If you are going to take the proper measures, I urge you do so asap, because one question in the mind of the judge/referee could be 'why is it right now that you're taking bringing this to my attention?'. I very much appreciate that you may well think the divorce/custody decree/order you have is, perhaps, unduly lengthy, and/or poorly/badly written; when I prepared proposed orders for a judge/referee, I aim to write as plain & clear as possible, & be succinct, & address all possible eventualities. if you are going to take action, I urge you be very careful that your legal paperwork, your 'Affidavit', is well written and detailed.
Legal question: I am thinking a lot about getting a divorce. Should I go to a lawyer now? Do I really need any lawyer? I do not like seeing money down the drain, and it's now secret lawyers can be thought of as really low or bottom...ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: A part of my daily work may include privately conferring with a spouse who's thinking about getting a divorce. Sometimes this sort of work is termed 'pre-divorce planning' or 'divorce planning'; my client may never actually divorce. Since COVID-19, for many reasons, most people prefer to meet with my using phone, but we can use Zoom or Duo. We talking in the privacy of the Attorney-Client privileged relationship. What people ask me about: Spouses may ask me the law on having to split any retirement, including pensions. I get asked how to get alimony, or how to never pay alimony. I may get asked about hiding money, or transferring money to someone like a sibling-I may get asked what happens if they 'get caught'. A very common question is 'Should I move out?', sometimes re. home ownership, sometimes re. kids at home, sometimes both. A spouse may meet with me and I then don't hear from them for awhile. Unless there's a special reason not to do so, I will say how I know this is your life, your loved ones, your future - go at whatever pace is right for you - you are free.-------
LEGAL QUESTIONS & ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWERS:
Legal question: I'm divorcing-no court order or anything. Is it ok for me to take kids to my parents out of state for 3 wks. - I'll let him know the address & give a phone no.?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER:Fuller details would need to be known in order to give you legal advice appropriate to your personal situation, wants and needs. There is no requirement to hire any lawyer to divorce; if you do have an attorney help you at this time, be a good consumer & do your homework - send emails, etc. Do beware so called 'free advice'. A subset of us attorneys will help clients in full or limited ways. Best to you-excellent questions!
Legal question: I'm going to get a divorce. My husband is a total narcissist and nonstop liar. Have you ever had to deal with anything like that?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: My answer is an emphatic 'Yes'. Also, remember that as well as being an attorney who has hours of ongoing continuing education, I have special training and other education as a family law and divorce mediator, and the same re. mental illness, alcoholism and other drug addiction, codependency, personality disorders (narcissism is a personality disorder) such as Borderline and Sociopath. I'm also a human who's had a lot of experience including in that 'School of Hard Knocks' :-) Take care - excellent question!
Legal question: I've decided to divorce & we've got 4 little children. We stopped paying the mtg. He won't agree. I don't qualify for any charity. I don't want to leave the home.
Legal question: The custody order says 2 weeks vacation with the kids but nonconsecutive. My ex is saying that means she's doesn't count my normal time with our kids. Yikes. Help.
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. I'm sorry you're having any sort of legal problem. If I were assisting you, I'd want to quickly read what's written in the present court Order, or Orders. Based on my many years of professional experience, there's a remote but very real chance one or more words or terms were poorly, or 'badly' drafted by the person or persons who wrote them. Just using common language, 'vacation' means a special time of rest or pleasure, and sometimes includes travel. 'One week' means 7 days'. 'Nonconsecutive' means not happening in a row (not 'back-to-back', not sequentially).
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. This is an incomplete answer - if I were helping you, I'd talk with you, ask you various questions, to learn fuller facts and details. One question in my mind is how old these little kids are. Another question in my mind is whether you think you and your spouse will reach an agreement. Be aware, please, that there is not 'one way to divorce' - a subset of divorcing people have full agreement. I also wonder if you have tension in your home. I wonder if there's any history of domestic violence or emotional abuse. You wrote you'd checked into 'charity' sort of help, and I'd ask you some questions about that-who you've contacted, and over what time frame. I expect that I might talk with you about you having limited, or highly limited lawyer help, and reduced fee for financial hardship. I might describe to you what the terms 'unbundled lawyer'/'limited scope lawyer' mean. I'd ask you about your family finances-you mentioned not paying the mortgage. Take care - I hope you and your kids enjoy your new life.
Legal question: My divorce was 5 yrs ago. Custody is full 50-50. Ex says kids don't want to be with me. I've tried everything - asking the kids, saying do i need to show up with police?. What should I do?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. If I were helping you, one starting point is to read what the court Order, or Orders, states. You wrote of 'police'; it does not sound as tho' you and your ex are the sort to be able to talk with one another 'and get somewhere'. Each child is, of course, unique. A question in my mind is how old the kids are; for example, it's one thing to ask a 16 y old about their wants and needs, and markedly different to ask a 7 y old the same questions. If you have attorney help with this, I urge you be a good consumer of lawyer services and do your homework; each lawyer is a different person; ideally you should feel utmost trust and confidence in the lawyer you choose to help you. If I were helping you, I'd initially give you my legal advice, counsel and guidance about the situation, once in the Attorney-Client relationship with you. Take care.
Legal question: I need to get divorced and so I read and read online and just feel more and more mixed up.
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. Excellent question! Remember the reason I believe I understand the divorce process, to some degree....:-) , is because it's my daily work. I'm positive you have expertise in ways in which I'm totally ignorant. The No. One rule is to keep in your mind that things posted on the internet can be ENTIRELY wrong - it happens all the time, and in an escalating way. I urge you to have some help. If you're financially stressed, low income, likely you can have some charity help; I suggest you call 211, which is the United Way, and ask what options there are for you, in your area and the county involved. In some divorces substantial money is involved and you may want to seek out private attorney help; if so, know that some will provide reduced fees for financial hardship, and, also, a subset of us may help you in a limited way, with cost curbing in mind. All the best in your new life.
Legal question: My husband is a secret alcoholic; we've been married almost 40 years. He left a note and got an apartment and said he just wants to be separated. I'm concerned I'll wind up sued for some awful thing he's done drunk.
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: You are right to be concerned; if I were assisting you, I would ask you about your wants and needs, and I expect I'd talk with you a short time about the difference between 'physically separating' versus being 'legally separated', and divorce. Some people do not want to divorce and will never choose to do so.
LEGAL QUESTION: My ex & I are court ordered to use My Family Wizard. My ex only opens the messages he wants to see. He's always been mean and wants to upset me.
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. Excellent questions. There's a saying: We can't change another adult; we barely have a chance at changing ourselves! I'd suggest minimizing your contact with this person, as much as possible; you described the relationship as toxic and upsetting to your psyche. If I were assisting you, a starting point is reading the Order or Orders. My impression is that you would have many options and choices re. what you could decide to do (or not do).
Legal question: My ex and I are affluent. Our divorce includes a division of out of pocket medical & dental & therapy expenses but it doesn't say anything about extracurriculars like sports, exercise classes and musical instruments/lessons. He won't agree to anything. Does that mean I have to get a new court Order about it?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. Excellent question, and it seems you understand the problem, and you named it quite clearly. If 'extras', and the division of the expenses between the two parents, are not named in a court Order, you would need to ask they be named in a new Order. As to 'mediation', 'ADR' (Alternative Dispute Resolution), it is very, very important that you know that it is a voluntary process and what is most critically important is that, IN ADVANCE of deciding on any person, have the person send you their bio' and current resume. For one, you want to know what training the person has had: 'Mediation' is NOT 'one thing' fyi. There are at least 4 distinct approaches, trainings. My own training and study includes Transformative, 'Real' Mediation, and a great deal of study of Family Law Mediation for High Conflict parents. Also, always remember that each mediator is a human being: We all have 'Implicit Biases'; some of us are far more aware of what those are than others. I urge you always be a good consumer of lawyer/legal/mediation services - do your homework, do the legwork. Best to you.
LEGAL QUESTION: I divorced 3 yrs ago. I'd taken my ex'es surname but I don't want it anymore. So I need to reopen the divorce, right?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: A legal change of name may be requested in the process of divorce; you stated you divorce three years prior; when an adult wants to seek a legal change of name otherwise, she/he does so by filing a lawsuit with the appropriate county civil court.
Lgal question: I want to get sole custody from my ex- but he's an addict, no address, and missing. How can I serve him?
Attorney Tricia Dwyer's answer: If I were to help you, I'd need to know fuller detail. For instance, is this some sort of restraining order action such as harassment or an OFP (Order for Protection petition)? If it's what's known as a 'motion', one first step is that I'd review the existing legal documents.
LEGAL QUESTION: Before we got married 30 years ago, I put $10,000 of my own money to the down payment on our first home. We then sold that home, purchased another, and now live in a condo'. He's met someone and I'm shocked we're divorcing. That $10K is worth many times more now; how do I get the fair amount?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. Generally, when, prior to the marriage, one spouse puts their own money to a down payment on a house, that money is identified as 'nonmarital' in nature. But things happen over time, for example, home improvements may be made, the couple may sell that home and 'roll' the proceeds over toward the down payment on a larger, or smaller, home they then purchase. Another example is that damage that is not covered by insurance may happen to a home, decreasing its value. Historically home values have tended to increase, but that is not always the case. Of course you do not have to hire any lawyer whatsoever; however, assuming the amount of money involved is substantial, I urge you to carefully choose one att'y you believe you can trust, and, at minimum, have legal advice and guidance on the matter. I assure you, each and every lawyer is different from the next. Know that a subset of divorce/family law att'ys will help people on a limited basis. The MN State Bar Association has a webpage at which you can do a precise search for the sort of att'y you want to help you. If you have att'y help, I urge you be a good consumer and do your homework - choose very carefully. Always beware so called free advice. All the best in your new life, too.
LEGAL QUESTION: My son needs therapy and the court Order says first mediate. Other parent won't. What now?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S REPLY: Hello. Excellent questions. You mentioned having attorney assistance, so know that it is possible for a family law attorney to assist you in a partial sort of way, or in a full way. When a family law lawyer helps you in a partial way, it may be by conferring with you, even coaching you and guiding you. It may be by what's known in the legal community as 'Limited Attorney Help'/'Limited Scope Lawyer Help'/'Limited Scope Legal Assistance'/'Unbundled Lawyer Help'/'Unbundled Family Lawyer Assistance' - multiple terms are used to describe the concept of a client having a lawyer help him/her in a limited sort of way. A family law/divorce/child custody lawyer possibly can help you in a 'pay as you go' manner. If you have stressed personal finances, a lawyer may help you with reduced fee. I urge you to be a good consumer of lawyer help, do your homework - google, send emails, make phone calls. The MN State Bar Association has a search tool you may use.
Another point is that 'if/when' you should have to go before a Judge or Court Referee about this matter, you'll be letting them know, in advance, that you asked and the other parent said 'no' (or ignored you....). Also, know that some parenting concerns about our kids are extremely, extremely time urgent, emergency ones, for instance, if the child poses danger of harm to others or self, or both - some issues are 'quasi-emergencies'. Thank you for the excellent questions.
LEGAL QUESTION: In my apartment on the floor is a big envelope from a lawyer & I think it's divorce papers. Doesn't that have to be handed in person to me?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. So very sorry. This sounds like stress. First, I'd be extremely concerned who entered your home. Who else besides you has the right to enter your home? Tenants renting apartments have extremely, extremely strict rights of privacy - no landlord can 'trapse' into your apartment, and furthermore, if that happened, the landlord can face grave penalties.
As to you and divorce, in my own work as a divorce lawyer, whenever possible and reasonable for the circumstances, there is no sheriff knocking on husband or wife's door, no process server banging on the door or 'trying to get into a person's apartment!', etc. In my work, whenever reasonable and possible, I help my husband or wife client form a full agreement to divorce with their spouse, all very peaceful and reasonable, no 'WWIII', no escalating any tensions or anger. And then it is only after the agreement is all set that anything about 'court', 'judge', 'court referee', 'filing', etc., etc., unfolds. If you are going to have attorney help, I urge you to choose the lawyer you want to help you now very carefully. A limited number of us may do reduced fee work for people with financial hardship, and limited lawyer help otherwise can be a wonderful option. Take care.
Legal question: My ex won't share custody until our toddler turns age 4. Can I take my child to vacation in another state?
Attorney Tricia Dwyer's answer: You seem to be stating there was a divorce, and a legal paper called a divorce decree; that decree is a court order (if not, it sounds as though otherwise there's a child custody order in place). If I were helping you, one starting point may be reviewing the divorce decree itself, because sometimes specific words about the child going out of the state of MN are included. Because you raise the question, you may have some special worries or concerns about it, so, if appropriate, of course please carefully choose one attorney you feel you can trust and have confidential legal advice.
LEGAL QUESTION: I'm divorced & my ex- drives a car that's titled in my name & has a loan in my name. She won't refin' it or turn it over. What to do?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. Based on what you wrote, your ex- may have been ordered to refinance the loan to her own name, or else, deliver the vehicle to you. If I were helping you now, a starting point is to read the wording and terms of the divorce decree itself. Law enf' may have told you that 'this is a civil matter'; the role of the police is 'to keep peace'; law enf' isn't 'the judge', and police are not a private vehicle repo' company either.
If I'd been helping you with your divorce, I expect I would have urged you to divorce in such a way that the 'ties' between the two of you are ended with full finality in the terms of the divorce divorce. Best to you.
Legal question: My court Order doesn't say which parent drives. My ex- says I need to do it and is nasty. What's the law?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S REPLY: Hello. Excellent questions. My reply here is limited. If your court Order doesn't state 'who drives', then, just as you said, the matter is unclear, ambiguous. When I am helping a parent, I find out from my client whether the 2 parents 'get along' generally; if the parents have a history of discord, then, when I write a proposed court Order for the Judge/Referee, I write terms and wording that are as clear and specific and unambiguous as possible. For example, if the drive is somewhat of a distance and it's during city rush hour traffic hours, I may include a provision of a 15 minute window of time for the drop off of the kid/kids to happen, and, if the parents need to send the other a message, I'll specify whether it's text/email, etc., to be used. It's possible you need to have the court Order amended/modified/changed.
LEGAL QUESTION: I married my wife last summer. I got rid of all my stuff and moved into this home she bought to fix up. She up and left me and told me I can stay as long as I want and putz and upgrade this beater home. I want to get on the deed. I just know if I leave she'll divorce me and I'll have nothing. Not fair. ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: James, First, when you're married in MN, by law you have a 'marital interest' in the property of your spouse; that said, in my many years of work, I have interacted with probably 'some dozens' of people in which their past or present legal problems have involved their 'ex' having unlawfully sold the home 'under their nose'. It sounds like you, and your spouse, are very intelligent people. It sounds as though you need help and protection now. A few ideas are that you can contact Legal Aid and do an Intake and see if they can help you. Another option is you check out what hours Ramsey County has lawyers available who provide free advice. I suggest you call 211 (the United Way) and tell them your zip code, and they can tell you of various options and possibilities. There's also something called 'Self Help', but, based on all you stated, I urge you to have help from a qualified and well experienced divorce/family law attorney at this time. It also sounds like you've been emotionally 'shaken up', so I urge you have help and support from people who know you and love you, and with whom you feel safe.
I do not do charity work to solicit any clients. I will note to you that in my own work, I may provide reduced fee for people with financial hardship. I myself also very much like to work together with my client, with lawyer work cost curbing and containment in mind. If you do seek private lawyer help, be a good consumer - make many phone calls, etc. - I promise you each and every lawyer is different from the next. It's important you feel great trust and safety with who it is you choose to help you out. Take care.
Legal question: I divorced in Wisconsin last year but am now living in Minnesota. Can I get custody in Minnesota?
Attorney Tricia Dwyer's answer: Hello.This is a partial reply - please have private help, as appropriate for your personal situation. If I were assisting you, I'd need to know fuller details. A first question is always finding out if there is any present or past domestic abuse, which can be physical, but definitely not necessarily. Is there any emotional wellbeing concern about the child? Is parent or child, or both, scared? In danger? Trying to hide? A starting point may be reviewing the existing legal paperwork. Sometimes more than one state may be possible 'venues' (court systems) to address custody; an example would be if a couple divorced very recently but both quickly moved to another state, or states.
LEGAL QUESTION: Bio mom & I make a parenting contract 3 months ago. She now wants changes put in writing. She says my mother interferes whatever that means. I cringe at the word lawyer or lawyers. What's best to do?
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER:Hello. Fuller detail would need to be known. I am all for peaceful, low key resolution, lowering 'the heat' not escalating it; and I strongly empathize with your desire to 'stay away from lawyers' :-) That said, your wrote of a 'contract' - private? a court Order? How did that 'contract' come to be - mom and dad? lawyer? lawyers? 'mediation'? 'mediator'? 'mediators'? 'collaborative law'? As to lawyers: In the event you choose lawyer help with this - or any other legal problem - I urge you be a good consumer - make phone calls, send emails - always remember lawyers are human beings & I guarantee you that each and every lawyer is different from the next!
LEGAL QUESTION: The mom of our kids has custody. A paper says she can make important medical decisions herself, no input from me. What about medical records-she won't give me those?ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. Excellent questions. I am not sure from what paper you are reading. It does sound as though you have a court Order - one or more court Orders - that discuss custody, parenting time, etc.; if so, please go to the end of that legal paperwork and you should see a legal paper that is called 'APPENDIX A'. That paper will specifically address the matter of child medical records.
LEGAL QUESTION: My problems' really private, embarrassing, but I know I need help now.
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: I urge you very carefully choose the lawyer you'll let help you now. You want to feel great trust and safety with who you choose.
Legal question: My 10 y old txtd me she doesn't want to be with her dad & is thinking of killing herself. My lawyer told me he's not comfortable asking to stop 50 50 & give me sole custody & he's withdrawing. Help.
Attorney Tricia Dwyer's answer: Hello. Thank you. You are not alone, and neither is your beloved child, and your other loved ones. I've had specialized training, and special experience in mental health and illness including suicide ideation (thinking about committing suicide). First things first. Call 911 if there's worry or fear of imminent danger of bodily harm or death. Another option is getting the child to an emergency room. As to somewhat lesser degrees of worry and fear, typically med' ins' cards have a 24 hr. nurse/other health care providers line to phone. Health care providers include child psychiatry, child mental health, primary care. Presumably the child's in school, so there's teachers, and often school counselors and social worker/psychologist sorts of staff. As to you choosing a replacement attorney, I recommend you make many phone calls, send out emails, in choosing - be a good consumer of attorney legal services. Each and every att'y is different from any other; each unique. Based on what you wrote, I would deem the situation a legal emergency, as well as a health care emergency. Excellent your child is open and feels safe to share with you. Of course have good help now - for all of you.
LEGAL QUESTION: I'm divorced & ugly custody battle. For some reason judge won't let me be with the kids now!. ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: More detail would need to be known. Perhaps what has happened is that an 'Ex Parte' (Latin, means 'one-side', or 'one-party') decision has been made; if so, look on the legal paperwork for a court date/time, because a hearing ought to be scheduled, to take place asap. Note: Often court takes place over Zoom at this time (COVID-19, flu, MRVirus), but not always. I definitely urge you to consider having lawyer help right away. A subset of private lawyers may provide reduced fee if there's financial hardship. Always remember each and every lawyer is different from the next. Another point to remember is that people tend to gravitate toward people 'like them'; in other words, concerns about custody of kids does not have to be war fyi ('battle'). Be a good consumer of lawyer services; ideally you want to feel utmost safety and trust with the one you choose to help you. Always beware so called 'free advice', too.
Legal question: My husband and I have lived in separate residences since our kids all moved out. He's got a big 401K and I want my part now.
ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: There are multiple ways that 401K plans can be fairly divided and shared between married, separated, or divorcing, spouses. You didn't state if you are staying married. Many married couples are separated, meaning, living in separate residences, but only a very small fraction of those are 'legally separated', which means the county court system is involved. Excellent question.
LEGAL QUESTION: I hired a lawyer for a Motion to Change Custody. The judge ruled on two things, & ordered us to go to mediation for six undecided major problems. She's stalling, canceling, imo scamming. Eight whole months now. What to do. ATTORNEY TRICIA DWYER'S ANSWER: Hello. Excellent questions! The question is 'what is reasonable'. Even if none of the specific differences/issues between the two of you are not urgent ones, eight mos. is not reasonable. If you aren't proactive to correct a possible 'wrongdoing', 'stalling' (by the other party) could go on even up to the time your kid/kids are grownups. Yes, we have COVID-19, flu and RSVirus, but most - perhaps nearly all - mediation is done remotely (eg, Zoom) at this time, not in person. There are 100s upon 100s upon 100s of 'mediators'. I myself am a credentialed child custody mediator, as well as child custody attorney. General tips: When you are choosing a mediator know they are NOT AT ALL the same'!! There are least 4 major types of 'mediation' types/styles/forms; I myself was trained in a highly respectful type of mediation known as Transformative Mediation or Real Mediation. I urge you have all mediators you are considering email you current resumes/bios', and current detailed statements describing real, actual mediations in which they have participated, date by date. Also remember every mediator is a human being - all of us have biases, some are known as 'Implicit Biases' - some of us are far more aware of biases and prejudices human beings to which each of us is subject than others. I urge DO be a good consumer and make phone calls, etc., do the legwork involved in knowing exactly who it is you've chosen to help you. And always beware so called free advice.
Send a private message now (briefly state your concern-include legal name of other adult involved).