Author Archives: Carl Arnold

About Carl Arnold

Divorce and Family Law Lawyer and Mediator in Northfield, Minnesota.

Are DANCOS Unconstitutional? (DANCO = Domestic Abuse No Contact Order)

Well, this is really interesting from a legal perspective and it sure has huge implications for victims of domestic violence, law enforcement and those against whom Domestice Abuse No Contact Orders (DANCOS) are enforced in Minnesota.  There is a news segment on MPR News about how the issue of whether a court issuing a DANCO without any due proces to the person against whom they would be enforced is unconstitutional, and therefore any resulting DANCO violation is void.  This is a big deal!

From the article:

The Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to consider the constitutionality of a state law designed to protect the victims of domestic abuse.

An attorney for Bryan Ness is challenging the law, which allows judges to impose domestic abuse no-contact order s that prevent someone suspected of abuse from contacting the victim.

Authorities say Ness, 33, struck his wife in the head several times during a January 2011, argument at their Moorhead apartment. When he appeared in court the next day to face charges for the assault, a Clay County judge ordered him not to have any contact with his wife.

Such court orders are popular with prosecutors. According to court records, Minnesota judges issued nearly 11,000 DANCO orders last year.

The news segment (audio and text) is found here” “Law Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims Challenged in [Minnesota] State Supreme Court“.

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Gay Men Feel Pressure to Add Children to their Family

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage, right!?  We’ll for many gay men, the pressure is on to add children to their newly formed and now many times legally recognized relationships.  The subject is covered in a New York Times article titled: Male Couples Face Pressure to Fill Cradles.  It has always been easier for female same sex couples to have children, but there is an increasing trend (and pressure, some feel) for male couples to add children to their families.

From the article:

Between 2000 and 2010, among same-sex couples raising children, the percentage of couples with adopted children increased to 20 percent from 9 percent, according to an analysis by Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Most same-sex couples with adopted children are lesbians, but gay men make up a growing share, accounting for nearly a third of such couples in 2010, up from a fifth in 2000.)

…But some gay men who have no plans to have children view the shift as something of a mixed blessing. On one hand, they welcome the sense of inclusion that comes with always being asked about children. On the other hand, they are always being asked about children.

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Cost of Raising Children – Sobering/Mind-Boggling

Well, in case you didn’t already know that it costs a lot to feed and house a child (not to mention the activity fees, etc.), here is a sobering poster that details the cost of raising a child.  Don’t get too depressed!

Costly Kids
Created by: EarlyChildhoodEducation.com

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Daisy Camp – upcoming divorce education classes

It’s time for another update on upcoming Daisy Camp divorce education classes!  The weekend retreat is scheduled as follows:

9.14.2012 – 9.16.2012 “Daisy Camp WEEKEND Retreat”
Location: Hotel Location TBD
Cost: $ 325(full weekend) $150 (Saturday Only)
Scholarships are available
Time: 9:00a.m. – 5:00p.m.
Call Molly to RSVP 952-405-2060 or email:
Here is the whole list of available classes:
  • April 26th – Financial Concerns/Tax Advantages for Divorcing Families
  • May 8th Commitment to Me
  • May 19th – Daisy Camp Day Retreat
  • May 22nd – How to Protect Your Children’s Needs
  • June 12th Commitment to Me
  • June 19th – Managing Your Emotions in the Divorce Process
  • July 10th Commitment to Me
  • August 9th – Back to School; Keep it cool with Co-Parenting tips
  • August 14th Commitment to Me
  • Septmember 11th Commitment to Me
  • September 14 – 16th Daisy Camp WEEKEND Retreat
  • September 27th – Divorce Options
  • October 9th Commitment to Me
  • October 15th – Financial Concerns/Tax Advantages for Divorcing Families
  • November 9th 2012 Daisy Camp Day Retreat
  • November 29th – How to Protect Your Children’s Needs
For more information contact Daisy Camp at 952-405-2060 or daisy@daisycamp.org.

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Finances in Divorce, Consider Consulting with a Certified Divorce Financial Planner

I ran into an article titled “What Does a Divorce Financial Planner Bring to the Table?”.  The article is written for a reading audience of professional Certified Financial Planners but for the rest of us it is a helpful summary of what a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can do for a divorcing person and a divorcing couple.

From the article:

I have spoken to individuals who will not get a divorce because they fear the financial consequences. They find it more appealing to stay in an, at best, unhealthy or, at worst, abusive relationship rather than become a “bag lady” or “bag man.” The recent drawn-out recession is only making things worse as two households struggle to survive on the same dollars that used to support just one.
In comes the divorce financial planner. A divorce financial planner is trained and knowledgeable about your state’s divorce laws as well as personal financial planning. They are fee-only planners who work within the context of the legal divorce process. The most prevalent designation for training is the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™). Working with a financial divorce expert can help preserve a family’s finances—which is crucial today more than ever.

Here’s a link to the article “What Does a Divorce Financial Planner Bring to the Table?

If you’d like to learn more about how to find a Divorce Financial Analyst or how one might be helpful to consult in your divorce, give us a call at Arnold Law and Mediation.

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We Spend Time Caring for Elderly

I ran into an interesting article in the New York Times about how much time we all spend on caring for the elderly in our families.  From the article:

Every day, Bureau of Labor Statistics interviewers ask Americans to detail how they spent the previous 24 hours, how many minutes and hours they devoted to everything from shopping to child care to phone calls. The results, culled from 12,500 respondents, make up the American Time Use Survey.

It began in 2003, but only last year did the bureau start asking about a key activity for millions of people — elder care.

Here’s a link to the article, titled: New Numbers on Elder Care.

At Arnold Law and Mediation, we help families come together to discuss elder care issues.  For example, we can host a phone conference or Skype video call where the family can discuss options for care and next steps in care.  We can facilitate the conversation in-person or by phone or Skype.  Many times, all it takes is getting people to the table to have a discussion to clear up lines of communication and get over the little speed-bumps in decision making.  This service is especially helpful where siblings of an elderly parent are spread out, living all over the country or even all over the world.  We can help bring everyone into the discussion to prevent misunderstandings and build trust and common goals and expectations.

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$235,000, That’s The Cost to Raise a Child to Age 17 (Not Counting College!)

The topic of how much it costs to raise a child comes up often in my conversations with parents, especially in the context of discussing child support.

There is a federal government report out (they have produced a report every year since 1960) that says a middle-income family (by their numbers, that’s between $59,400 and $102,870 per year) spends $235,000 total to raise a child until age 17.  That, of course, doesn’t include the cost of paying for the child’s 18th year, which is typically when they are graduating from high school.  Importantly, it also doesn’t include helping out with college costs.

Now, that total cost goes down a little bit the more children you have, since they can share clothes and bulk food costs less and they can share rooms, etc.  In other words, 2 children don’t cost 2 x $235,000.  But, the study says, for example, that it costs only about 22% less per child for families with 3 or more children compared to a family with 2 children.  Also, the biggest category is housing, since more children means a need for more living space.

The interesting thing to me is that the study says that costs for another child are nearly double, which is different than the assumption used in the child support calculation.  In the guidelines child support calculation, the assumption is that an extra child only adds a fractional additional cost after the first child, so that is something in the guidelines child support calculation that may not match the real cost of raising children, if this study’s assumptions are correct.

Of course, poorer families spend less per child and richer families spend more per child.

If I ignore interest, inflation, and any present value calculation and just divide $235,000 by 17 years and then divide that by 12 to get to a monthly payment, that equals $1,151 per month.

Read my blog post about the 2009 cost to raise a child report where I ran through a sample Minnesota Guidelines Child Support calculation for comparison purposes.

Read more in this Star Tribune Article or a the actual government study report titled “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2011“.

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“Destination Divorce”, sounds like a good idea!

The New York Times recently ran an article titled “Quick Getaways, at the Divorce Hotel“.  It was about a business called “Divorce Hotel” where couples could check in married and check out divorced.  The business would provide a schedule, legal advice, whatever the couple needed to get through the divorce process.  Although the article says that the concept is applied in Europe, they hope to bring the idea to the United States.

I’m a little hesitant, but I think that for some people this could be a great model.  We have often talked about doing something we’ve named “Destination Divorces” where we would take couples on a cruise or vacation to Hawaii or something like that and during the trip we could relax, for example over an extended weekend, and have some ocean views while stepping through the divorce process.

The price could actually be less than many divorces that go to court! Imagine that! You would get to be in a pampered environment, and have a meeting or two each day related to the divorce, and you could be done quickly and spend less money than going to court!

This model could work really well in a Collaborative Divorce setting where the couple agrees to each hire a Collaboratively trained lawyer and that they will not go to court with those lawyers. In a sense, this just makes the Collaborative process a little shorter by making the time between meetings less and makes the environment much more fun! It could also work in a mediation environment. The mediator (or mediators, if you are using co-mediation with a male and female team of mediators) would run all the meetings and provide a summary of the agreements at the end.

To make this work, the couple would need to have all their financial information collected and shared beforehand.  In my view, there would also have to be an option to not come to final agreements or to have the ability to not agree at all.  Some people just need to sleep on things for a week or two before deciding, rather than just sleeping on a decision for one or two nights.  Also, some cases are not going to settle and it would be inappropriate to hold someone hostage, even in a sunny tropical environment, unless they agree.  So, as long as that was clear, it seems like many couples could do quite well in this sort of pampered environment!

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