Legal Services

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Secure the personal services of a professional who has been practicing in Minnesota for more than 25 years. Liz Pierce will personally speak with you about your concerns. You can rest assured that when you go to court, Liz Pierce will be at your side.

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Family Law

Divorce

Divorce or the dissolution of marriage is the legal proceeding to end a marriage. The Court Order will establish custody, parenting time, child support, maintenance (commonly called alimony) and divide the debts and assets between the spouses.


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Unmarried Couple Dissolution

Creating a family without marriage:

Some people chose to form families without the benefit of marriage and still others form families despite not having the choice of marriage. If you enter a relationship without the benefit of the legally enforceable marriage law, there is no predictable way for the courts to help you dissolve that relationship and the financial or child related disputes. Unmarried couples can plan for themselves, in advance, how they will treat jointly owned property and assets. Unmarried male-female couples should consider the legal ramifications of co-habitation. Your plans and agreements should be formalized in a written document. Liz Pierce will aid individuals or couples to create partnership agreements that address issues related to homes, personal property, pets, investment accounts, debts, and other matters that may arise in the course of their relationship. Liz Pierce will help you identify important issues that are related to death and dying and the transfer of your property to your partner at your death.

Separation or dissolution of your relationship:

The dissolution of an unmarried couple is very similar to that of a marriage. The difference relates to the court system and how the court requires that unmarried couples complete their dissolution. Liz Pierce has decades of experience helping with unmarried couple dissolutions. If your relationship ends, Liz Pierce will advise you on your rights regarding assets and debts accrued during the relationship. We will also step in if necessary to help you enforce those rights. Liz Pierce can offer you sound, reasoned advice at a time when you may be emotionally overwhelmed and prone to questioning your own judgment.


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Custody/Parenting Time

Child custody consists of two parts: physical custody (where children reside) and legal custody (the authority to make major decisions concerning children such as education, medical care and religious training). The underlying standard in all custody cases (divorce and paternity) is the "best interests of the child." Child custody can be sole or joint. Joint physical custody does not have to mean equal parenting time. Under Minnesota`s new child support law, parenting time now falls into three categories. See Child Support section for more information.

Parents can agree to a parenting schedule with the assistance of counsel, through mediation or on their own. To modify or change an existing custody order, a showing of endangerment (physical or emotional) may also be necessary. A parent who wishes to move outside the State of Minnesota with a child must have the agreement of the other parent or an order from the court. Absent an agreement between the parents, a court will consider whether the move is in the children’s best interests following a hearing.

Court should be a "last resort" for parents but it is sometimes necessary. If court is necessary to resolve the parenting topics, Liz has the experience and skills to litigate the case to a conclusion.


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Child Support

Under the child support law, the gross monthly income of both parents and the parenting time allocation is considered. Parenting time falls within three categories: (1) less than 10%; (2) 10% to 45.1%; and (3) 45.1% or more. If the parenting agreement or order provides a parent with at least a 10% parenting time during a calendar year, the new law provides for a "parenting time adjustment" or reduction in the calculated child support.

Other factors in the new child support analysis include the costs of dependent insurance and child care, whether a parent is paying court-ordered spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) and "non-joint children". Non-joint children are legal children of one but not both of the parents.

If circumstances have changed since the last child support order, then you can ask the court to recalculate your child support.

Child support can be resolved outside of court by private agreement or through mediation. At Pierce Richards Law Office we have the experience to examine the factors relevant in determining or modifying child support. If a private resolution by agreement or through mediation cannot be reached, Liz Pierce has the knowledge and the experience to effectively represent clients in court.


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Adoption

Step parent adoptions and second parent adoptions are routine in the office of Pierce Richards Law Office. Let us help you understand the complexities of this area of law.


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Estate Planning


Power of Attorney

You can give a trusted person the right to be able to access your financial accounts and pay bills, apply for social security disability and even to sell your house. You may want to have more than one person named on your financial power of attorney. Liz Pierce can advise you regarding the risks and benefits of a financial power of attorney.


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Health Care Directive

In addition to your will, you should also review whether you have in place effective health care directives that grant an agent the ability to make health care decisions in the event that you are incapacitated. Without proper directives, your partner may be excluded from your bedside by unfriendly family members or medical professionals. A legal health care directive, prepared and thoroughly vetted by Liz Pierce, is the best way to make sure that your wishes are honored.


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Trusts

For some estates Liz Pierce will recommend a trust, limited liability corporation or some other estate planning document. If you have a family cabin, family business, disabled child or family member, please feel free to speak candidly with Liz Pierce about your concerns.


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Wills

In the event of your death, if you don't have a will, the state decides where your assets will be distributed. This is called intestacy (the state of being without a legal will). If you are a member of a non-traditional family, the intestacy statutes may not distribute your assets in the manner you would like. This makes a will perhaps the most important tool for protecting your assets, and therefore your family, after you die. The heartbreaking stories of people forced out of their homes after their long-time partner dies unexpectedly needn't happen. Liz Pierce will make sure your legal affairs are put in order to reflect the values of you and your partner, not those of the state.


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Probate

Probate is the process of distributing certain assets at the time of a death. The state law sets out priorities including the rights of minor children and spouses. If you have a will you will name a personal representative and direct that person how to distribute your assets. If you have a trust, you may still have some assets distributed according to your will. Contact Liz Pierce about your questions related to probate.


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Self Help

Liz Pierce can help you with limited representation. She can help you in three ways: (1) draft self-help legal materials on how to present your case to the court for divorce or child support matters; (2) analyze your mediation agreement and draft the necessary court documents; and (3) provide you with consultation as you represent yourself.

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