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Minneapolis Criminal Law Blog

Government cracks down on identity theft operations

Today, it seems there are almost daily reports about some corporation or financial institution being hacked. From Minneapolis' own Target Corp. to JPMorgan and Home Depot, hackers are taking aim at U.S. corporations and making off with sensitive data including the personal identifying and financial information of customers.

Frequently, information obtained through data system breaches is used to commit acts related to identity theft and financial fraud. These types of operations are often complex and sophisticated and involve numerous players, many of whom know little to nothing about a plot and profit very little or not at all from their involvement.

Allegations of domestic violence can inhibit parent's access to child

Divorce and child custody cases can grow increasingly complicated when one spouse accuses the other of committing acts related to domestic violence. In cases where an individual is accused of domestic violence or abuse, it's important to understand the legal process involved in these types of cases as well as the potential impact on a divorce or child custody case.

Minnesota's Domestic Abuse Act aims to protect individuals who have experienced "violence caused by a family or household member." Acts of domestic abuse include physical assault, criminal sexual conduct and threats of physical harm.

Why is it important to establish paternity in Minnesota?

When a child is born to a woman who is not married, she automatically has sole child custody rights. This is true even in cases where a child's father and mother are in a committed relationship, living together, the father's name is on the child's birth certificate and he plans to raise and emotionally and financially support the child.

What happens then if the couple splits when the child is one or two? If the father never took steps to legally establish paternity, he has no legal rights to the child and therefore cannot obtain child custody and visitation rights. Additionally, the child's mother has no means of seeking or enforcing the payment of child support.

The link between brain injuries and aggression

It's fall in Minnesota and that means Vikings fans are proudly donning their purple and gold as they cheer on their team. Unfortunately, the start of this NFL football season has been marred by the alleged crimes of two star running backs, the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Rice and the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson.

As we noted in our last blog post, last Feb. Rice was arrested after a fight with his then fiancé and charged with aggravated assault. More recently video footage surfaced showing Rice punching his fiancé and knocking her unconscious. Just last week, photos surfaced of physical injuries suffered by Peterson's four-year-old son after the NFL player hit him with a switch.

After years of marriage, how to succeed post divorce

Today's twenty-somethings have very different views about and attitudes toward marriage than their counterparts 30 years ago. Many individuals age 50 and older married and started families in their early twenties. After years spent struggling financially and raising children, some empty nesters come to realize they no longer have much or anything in common with a husband or wife.

Feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, a growing number of spouses age 50 and older are filing for divorce. While divorce at any age can be challenging, for so-called gray divorcees, divorce presents unique financial, familial and social challenges.

Domestic violence charges and role of diversionary programs

On Feb. 15, 2014, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancé Janay Palmer were arrested after being involved in a domestic altercation that resulted in Rice initially being charged with simple assault. In the wake of his arrest, hotel video surveillance footage surfaced that showed Rice dragging Palmer, who appeared to be unconscious, from a hotel elevator.

Subsequently, charges against Rice were changed to aggravated assault to which he plead not guilty. He opted to participate in a first-time offender program which required he attend counseling. Today, questions remain as to whether Rice may face additional criminal charges after additional video footage from inside the hotel elevator was publically released which shows Rice punching Palmer who then appears to be knocked unconscious.

How is child support calculated in Minnesota?

Under Minnesota law, children have the right to receive support from both parents, and financial support in the form of child support may be ordered by the court. A child's parent or a guardian, such as a grandparent, has the right to request child support. Additionally, the county attorney's office may start a case when parents are not living together or married and either parent is receiving public assistance.

If support is ordered, the amount of payments are often determined based on child support guidelines, which use the income of both parents, how many children are to be supported and the costs associated with raising and caring for those children. It is important to note that, under the guidelines, the amount of time that a paying parent spends with their children can impact the amount of support they are obligated to provide.

Divorce mediation provides alternative to traditional divorce

For many couples who wish to divorce the idea of going through a traditional courtroom divorce is not appealing. While litigation and court intervention is often necessary in many divorces, some couples may prefer and benefit from divorce mediation.

Through the mediation process, a divorcing couple comes together to discuss and attempt to sort out important divorce-related matters. A divorce mediator guides the conversation and helps educate divorcing spouses about relevant legal rules and procedures. Often, throughout the mediation process, third-party experts are called upon to provide additional information related to issues like finances and children.

Divorce disputes over pet ownership becoming more common

Americans love their pets. For many pet owners, a dog or cat provides companionship and unconditional love. What's more, aside from food, water and the occasional scratch behind the ear, a dog or cat doesn't ask for much in return. It's no wonder, therefore, that a recent poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that divorce cases involving pet custody disputes are increasing.

Obviously, for parents with minor aged children, child custody disputes are emotional and difficult. When it comes to divorce and disputes over pets, many pet owners also experience tremendous emotional turmoil. However, when it comes to divorce, pets are regarded by the courts as property and therefore only one spouse retains ownership of a pet.

Visitation rights of grandparents

Grandparents in Minnesota who have been denied access to their grandchildren may be interested to learn what rights they have. Although laws vary from state to state, every state will allow grandparents to petition the court for the right to see their grandchildren. How easily these visitation rights are granted will depend greatly on whether the state has permissive visitation statutes or restrictive visitation statutes.

When a state has permissive visitation laws, a non-parent can seek visitation rights to a child while both of the child's parents are living and married. A grandparent wishing to seek visitation in a state with restrictive visitation laws would only be allowed to do so if the parents of the child were divorced or at least one of the parents was deceased.

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Juvenile Criminal
Defense Strategies

Christa Jacqueline Groshek
© 2012 Aspatore Books from
Thomson Reuters Westlaw.
Reproduced by permission