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Can I erase my juvenile criminal records in Minnesota?

It is just a myth that juvenile court and conviction records in Minnesota are either automatically sealed or expunged at the age of 18. The truth is actually much more complicated.

What is expungement?

An expungement can hide your criminal records from public viewing and keep them from being opened or disclosed at a future date. To be clear, expungement does not mean that your records are destroyed.

Stopping child support payments

Many Minnesota parents depend on child support payments from a former spouse or partner. In some cases, however, a custodial parent may opt to stop these payments. There are several reasons a parent may choose to turn down financial support, but they are usually due to a change in circumstances for one or both parties.

It is more common to hear about disputes in which one parent refuses to pay support to the other. However, many custodial parents fully understand that it is not practical for a noncustodial parent to make a court-ordered payment in the face of financial challenges. A parent's income is a factor in determining payment amounts. However, if the noncustodial parent loses their job or takes a pay cut, it may not be practical for him or her to continue making payments.

Minnesota parents who owe child support

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act is a federal law that punishes parents who move to another state with the purpose of willfully failing to make child support payments. As a federal law, the act applies to residents of all states, and a DPPA action can be brought in any federal court in any state.

Under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, parents charged with a violation can face a fine of over $5,000 for missing child support payments for longer than a year and a fine of over $10,000 if they missed payments for longer than two years. Additionally, there is a potential jail sentence of up to six months for a first offense, and further offenses carry potential prison terms of up to two years.

African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted

A study indicates that African-Americans living in Minnesota and around the country are far more likely that whites to be wrongly convicted of a variety of types of crimes. The study, which was completed by the National Registry of Exonerations, determined that African-Americans were 12 times as likely to be falsely convicted of drug charges and seven times as likely to be erroneously convicted of murder when compared to whites.

Researchers were able to determine this by going over cases between 1989 and 2016 and looking at the rate of exonerations. They discovered that of the 1,900 people exonerated after being convicted of a crime, just shy of half of those were African-American.

Divorce rate raising among older adults

Older couples in Minnesota who are getting divorced echo a larger pattern emerging across the United States. While divorce is occurring less frequently among younger adults, it has almost doubled since the 1990s among adults who are 50 years or older.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics and United States Census Bureau, in 2015, 10 out of every 1,000 individuals who were aged 50 years or older divorced compared to 5 out of 1,000 persons in the same age range in 1990. For this particular age group, the divorce rate has changed little since 2008. In individuals who are 65 years or older, the divorce rate has tripled since 1990, reaching six people per 1,000 married individuals in 2015.

Popular actress faces divorce, custody battle

Minnesota movie lovers and comic book fans alike probably know who Scarlett Johansson is but may not know much about her personal life. This is likely deliberate as the star likes privacy, but a few details about her life are emerging as she begins the process of her second divorce.

Johansson's first marriage to fellow actor Ryan Reynolds lasted from 2008 to 2011. The "Black Widow" actress found love again with former journalist Romain Dauriac, and the couple created a prenuptial agreement in 2014. This may dictate many parts of the couple's separation but does not discuss who gets custody of the couple's young daughter Rose.

Protecting children from a child custody dispute

The most profound changes to result from a divorce are often experienced by the children. In Minnesota courts, a judge may acknowledge this during litigation and provide a special lawyer for the children who is focused on only on their best interests. However, a divorcing couple is best positioned to smooth the transition for their children.

Many realities of divorce cannot be avoided, but it is worth making the effort to stop fighting. The marriage may have ended poorly with blame from both sides. Visitation rights and custody disputes may be ongoing. However, research shows that continuing and escalating fights are the worst for the emotional well-being of children. The conflicts increase their feelings of insecurity and can make them feel as though they must choose sides.

Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson reworking custody agreement

Minnesota residents who follow the lives of celebrities may be interested in news about a former celebrity couple. Actress Kate Hudson and her ex-husband Chris Robinson are going to court to have their child custody agreement reevaluated. The request for the reevaluation came from Robinson, and Hudson will have to pay the bill for it.

The couple were married in 2000 and divorced in 2007 after having separated a year earlier. They had a son, Ryder, in 2004. According to reports, the evaluation will consider the couple's current joint custody arrangement and determine the best living situation for 13-year-old Ryder.Hudson and Robinson each have other children in addition to Ryder. Hudson has a 5-year-old son with a former fiancé, and Robinson, of the rock group The Black Crowes, has a daughter with his current wife.

Poorer outcomes for Minnesota children without child support

Based on data from a 2017 report to Congress, parents paid more than $32 billion in child support through the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement in fiscal 2015. In spite of this very large number, a significant number of parents are not receiving the payments they are owed. Payments may be late or never come at all.

When people do not make the child support payments that they are obligated to, it can make thi ngs difficult for the parent who is raising the child and the child as well. In addition to the fact that children may suffer if they are not provided with food and clothing, lower academic outcomes are associated with children who have parents who aren't making child support payments.

Making changes to a custody order

When Minnesota parents go through a divorce, they often finalize a custody agreement that determine who the child will live with, when the child will spend time with the other parent and how the child will be raised. There are many parents who are able to make a child custody agreement work for them even as the child grows older and the parents' situations change. However, there may come a time when the child custody order that is in place no longer works.

A parent who wants to make changes to a custody order will need to go to the original court where the order was finalized and ask to modify it. Generally, changes to the child custody order will only be made if the circumstances have changed substantially and modifying the court order is in the child's best interest.

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Juvenile Criminal
Defense Strategies

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