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The argument for decriminalizing drug possession

Law enforcement in Minnesota and the rest of the nation arrest people for drug possession more than any other type of offense. According to a report released by the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, low-level drug offenses, such as those for personal use and possession, should be decriminalized.

Over 1.25 million people are arrested each year for drug possession. In 2015, for every four people arrested for possession or using drugs, only one person was arrested for selling the drugs. Almost half of the drug arrests are for just marijuana.

Unreasonable divorce demands

When Minnesota couples decide to end their marriages due to irreconcilable differences, both parties often seek a fair and equitable divorce settlement. However, sometimes there are situations in which one spouse makes demands that are entirely unreasonable. In such situations, it can be important for the other spouse to not allow their desire to end the marriage to cloud their judgment during the settlement process.

While it may be perfectly reasonable for a nonworking spouse to request alimony or some extra time in the family home, it is in many cases also appropriate for that spouse to eventually reenter the workforce. As such, agreeing to provide indefinite alimony may not be in the best interests of the person who will be making those support payments.

Resolving disputes while co-parenting

Minnesota parents who go through a divorce are usually awarded joint legal custody by the court. This means that both parents have equal rights to make decisions about certain aspects of their children's lives. When parents share joint custody, they won't always agree on parenting decisions, and disputes may arise.

Divorced parents may have major disagreements about parenting decisions such as what school to enroll their child in, what doctor to send their child to or how to schedule parenting time. There are also an infinite number of lesser conflicts that could come up while two people are sharing parenting responsibilities. Disagreements about things like bed times, extracurricular activities and vacations could all cause disputes between divorced parents.

Talking about finances and expectations prior to marriage

Many Minnesota couples do not want think about what would happen if they get a divorce before they have even gotten married. However, 45 to 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce. This is why couples who are considering marriage should have discussions about their expectations and financial status before they tie the knot.

While divorce can be caused by infidelity and lack of commitment to the marriage, other reasons include disagreements regarding money and expectations that are not realistic. Resolving the money issues and the unrealistic expectations before marriage may potentially prevent a divorce. For the best results, couples should determine what their separate finances look like, what the monthly budget should be and what savings plan should be put into action. When talking about money, both individuals should discuss any debts that they have, including student loans or debt from credit cards.

Who gets the house in a Minnesota divorce?

The primary residence is usually the most valuable asset in Minnesota divorce cases, and it is generally dealt with early in property division negotiations. If one spouse owned the property before the couple married, the residence may be viewed as separate property and not subject to division. However, separate property can become comingled if marital income is used for its upkeep or repair. In most cases, the house will have been acquired after the couple married, and there are a number of ways that it can be dealt with during a divorce.

Many divorcing couples choose to sell their primary residence and divide the proceeds. This division should generally be equitable even if the income of only one spouse was used to make mortgage payments. If the house is not sold, the spouse who chooses to remain may purchase the other spouse's share of the property or offer assets in exchange for it during divorce negotiations. However, spouses who enter into this type of agreement should be aware that mortgage lenders may not be deterred by divorce settlements when loans go into arrears.

What happens if a child pleads guilty to a crime in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, most children who are charged with crimes go through juvenile court rather than adult criminal court. Before a juvenile court judge will accept a guilty plea from minor defendants, the judge will first advise them and make certain that they understands their rights and what could happen if the court accepts the plea.

A guilty plea waives a child's right to contest the charges at trial. When juveniles enter a guilty plea, they are admitting that there are facts to support the basis for the charge to which they are pleading guilty. They also waive the rights to be presumed innocent, to hear witnesses who are called to testify against the child, to remain silent and to call witnesses to testify on their behalf.

No such thing as "too much" child support

Many single Minnesota parents rely on child support in order to provide for their children. However, there are some who often hear complaints about how much child support they are receiving. In some cases, the complaints may be coming from the other parent who is responsible for paying support.

Ultimately, each state has a child support system that allows judges to determine how much child support the noncustodial parent should be paying based on income. Minnesota uses the "income shares model" where both the parents' income is taken into account when figuring out child support. The main goal is to ensure that the child is able to maintain the standards of living they would have become accustomed to if the parents were still together. This is especially important if one parent was much wealthier than the other.

Child custody myths that need to be dispelled

Pennsylvania children whho are subjected to domestic violence may be at a higher risk for developing PTSD. This may occur in childhood or later when that child turns into an adult. In some cases, these problems can persist after his or her parents get divorced. This is partially because of a belief that a child may be safe from an abusive parent after a separation or divorce.

Children may also be used as bargaining chips by their parents after their relationship ends. There is also no guarantee that the parent who was the victim of abuse is the one who gets custody of his or her children. In some cases, an abusive mother or father may actually win custody despite his or her past actions. This may occur because the abuse victim is not physically or mentally capable of taking care of a child or children.

Why cohabiting couples should avoid mortgages

Minnesota couples who are living together but aren't married may want to reconsider buying a house together. While it may be seen as a step on the road to marriage, the law treats a couple differently when they aren't actually husband and wife. For instance, if the house is sold, both parties may be entitled to an even split of the proceeds even if only one person actually makes payments.

Those who study the issue say that it may be easier if one person is on the mortgage and the other pays rent. If the couple gets married, the money goes to the same place, and if the relationship ends, whoever keeps the house has the benefit of being paid market value rent by a tenant. Regardless of what a couple decides to do, it may be best to treat the transaction like any other business arrangement.

Life sentences commuted for nonviolent drug offenders

Minnesota residents may know that there are people serving decades-long and life sentences in prison for nonviolent drug offenses. Some people argue that handing lengthy sentences to nonviolent drug offenders leads to unnecessarily high incarceration rates. Since 1980, the prison population in the United States has grown from under 25,000 to over 200,000.

Over the past few years, President Barack Obama has been granting commutations to hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders in an effort to reduce prison overcrowding, save taxpayer money and give deserving prisoners a second chance. Over one-third of the 673 inmates whose sentences have been cut short so far were serving life sentences in prison. Obama's most recent round of commutations were granted Aug. 30 when he shortened 111 federal prisoners' sentences. Earlier in August, 214 federal prisoners' sentences were commuted.


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Juvenile Criminal
Defense Strategies

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