Money & Marriage: How One can Work Against the Other

money & marriageEven with dual incomes supporting more households, and prevalent financial planning options available, couples continue to report money as the number one reason they fight. A recent study from Kansas State University says financial disagreements may be the strongest indicator of coming divorce, while Utah State University has found that couples who fight about finances at least once a week are 30% more likely to split.

Merging assets, managing debts, budgeting, investing, planning for emergencies, and financial secrets often cause the conflict, though a USA Today poll says problems are typically driven by a basic breakdown in communication. Two-thirds of couples who report mounting money problems admit never even discussing their shared financial life before getting married. “Couples will talk about sex, religion, and many other dicey things,” Syble Solomon, the motivational speaker behind ‘Money Habitudes’, says in the referenced USA Today story. “But when it comes to money, couples are silent.”

Topics for Couples to Discuss before Marriage

Couples, then, should discuss a healthy financial life before marriage,  and not overlook intangible details years away. According to Sandra Weng, a licensed therapist and certified divorce financial analyst, the following issues are topics couples should talk about in order to avoid stress and disagreement later in life.

  1. Reduced Circumstances. Couples who seek financial guidance may not adequately plan for every scenario.  For a slew of reasons (economic changes or layoffs), they may encounter hardship previously unconsidered. This readjustment causes couples to ask themselves, “Can we redefine our relationship in a way that is not based on a previous lifestyle?”. Unfortunately, for most, the answer is “no.”
  1. One-Party Mistakes.  Problems may exist when a spouse makes a financial mistake that affects the marriage and/or family. This often happens when one makes financial decisions without informing or consulting  the other, leading to a series of finger pointing, blame, and trust issues. Thus, joint decisions are important. Couples should talk about their assets, debts, and investments so that both parties are informed and on notice of the potential risks.
  1. When Parents Get Involved. The toughest choice of a marriage may be the one that feels like choosing between your spouse and a family member. For example, when one spouse’s aging parent requires financial assistance and support, a couple is often faced with the difficult choice of what to do. Many spouses may feel ethically required to offer help, even at the expense of themselves or their marriage. It is important for couples to talk about such scenarios before they become a problem.
  1. Kids. Often, “doing right” by the children will keep a couple together, even though the financial challenges that children pose can be detrimental to marriages. Changing circumstances play a huge part in what a parent may feel comfortable providing, and as a couple’s assets change, one child may not receive an opportunity another did. Now more than ever, children are returning home in their mid-20’s, expecting sanctuary from the harsh realities of an unfavorable job market. This creates a boiling point for parents, who may have different expectations for their children’s own means of survival.
  1. Uncertainty. In the last 30 years, many couples have witnessed their money ride the financial roller coaster up and down. For many, there is a certain sort of low-grade, long-term economic uncertainty that is pervasive despite the best financial planning. Some couples handle this stress better than others, but the enduring anxiety that accompanies the rise and fall of the economic environment can slowly tear away at a marriage.

Long-term success in the face of financial uncertainty depends upon planning for the unexpected, yet simple measures can prevent complicated arguments. The most basic practices (often taken for granted) deserve another look.

“Money Issues That Can Test Even A Rock Solid Marriage” by Sandra Weng, New York Times.
“5 Financial Mistakes That Ruin Your Marriage” by Nancy Anderson, Forbes Magazine.

Can Your Height Predict Divorce Likelihood?

Height and DivorceSociologists at NYU say that a person’s height can help determine how likely they are to get a divorce later in life.

For their study, researchers sought to determine how certain social and physical factors influenced a person’s likelihood of divorce. To do this, researchers looked at data from 4,500 families over a 16-year span. Some of the factors they analyzed included:

• Height.
• Height, compared to their significant other.
• Income.
• Education.

Men were classified as short, average or tall based on their height. Short was classified as being less than 66 inches in up until 2009, when the number changed to 67 inches. Men were considered tall if they were at least 73 inches, and that categorization was again raised an inch in 2009. Average men fell between the two listed heights.

Height Results

Some of the insights the researchers collected from the data include:

• Short men tended to marry later in life than average or tall men, but they were 32 percent less likely to divorce.
• Tall men were more likely to marry women close to their age with a higher education.
• Short men were more likely to marry younger women.
• Short men were more likely to make a greater amount of money than their spouse compared to tall men, whose income level tended to be closer to that of their spouse.

Researchers stopped short of declaring a causal relationship between height and divorce likelihood, and they noted that the findings do not represent all couples. Instead, they concluded by saying that socioeconomic status and physical features are just a few of many traits that could lead a couple to seek a divorce.

“Marriage and divorce have implications for socioeconomic stratification and asset accumulation, our observed effects suggest that men’s height may indirectly affect their economic status and socioeconomic mobility through these demographic processes.”
Related source: Huffington Post

Divorce: In Sickness and in Health?

Woman sickA new study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that a spouse’s health can serve as a predictor of divorce likelihood.

According to researchers, couples in which one of the partners is chronically ill are 50 percent more likely to get a divorce than the average couple. To unearth these findings, researchers looked through 20 years of data on more than 2,700 couples. For a better data sample, researchers only looked at couples where one of the partners was over 50 years old, as age is often a predictor of chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease and stroke.

After analyzing the data, researchers uncovered:

  • Men were more likely than women to get sick.
  • Divorce was more common when the woman, not the husband, fell ill.

Although researchers fell short of determining exactly why divorce was more common when the wife became ill, they speculated that men may feel ill-equipped to act as a caretaker for their wife, while the wife may be more comfortable playing the role of caretaker for the husband.

“It’s…important to recognize that the impetus for divorce may be health-related and that sick ex-wives may need additional care and service to prevent worsening health and increased health expenditures,” study author Amelia Karraker said in a statement.

Amelia begins to uncover one of the root causes of divorce when she talks about increased health expenditures, but she fails to mention the emotional tolls of a chronic illness. Chronic diseases are physically and emotionally draining for both partners in a relationship, and sometimes people can become overwhelmed.

Be open about your concerns, and talk about the possibility of a separation instead of just dropping divorce papers in front someone. If that’s the route you choose to go, having candid discussions with one another and your divorce lawyer can help simplify the divorce process during this difficult time in a person’s life. It will also make it much easier to devise a spousal maintenance agreement if both parties are open about their finances and their expected expenses.

Related source: TIME


The 5 Most Problematic States For Divorce

Worst State DivorceGoing through a divorce can be a cumbersome process, especially if you live in a state that has some unique laws the divorcing parties must follow. Below, we look at five states that drag out the divorce process, and Kelsey Karls explains how they stack up to Minnesota.

5. California – Although California is a no-fault state, getting unhitched in the The Golden State can be a drawn out process. It’s costs $395 to file for divorce, and the state has a unique “cooling off” law. Under California law, divorcing parties must wait at least six months after they file before their divorce can be completed. Even after six months, there is no guarantee your paperwork will be processed expediently, as experts say it can take 360 days for your divorce to become official.

4. Arkansas – It only costs $165 to file for divorce in Arkansas, but the state has one of the longest processing times in the nation. Arkansas has a minimum processing time of 540 days, during which the couple must live separately. If they cohabitate at all during the stretch, the processing clock resets.

3. South Carolina – Unlike the first two states, couples in South Carolina must be separated for at least one year before they can even file for divorce. Both parties must be residents of the state for at least three months. If one party moves out of state, the residency requirement stretches to one year.

2. Rhode Island – Rhode Island comes in as the cheapest state to file for divorce on this list at a paltry $120, but the states also boasts a minimum processing time of 510 days. After a couple files, the state institutes a mandatory five-month “cool down” period.

1. Vermont – Vermont comes in as the worst state for divorce because it presents a triple threat of annoyances. First, the couple must be residents for at least a year, and after they file, they must live apart for six-months. Secondly, Vermont’s processing time rivals Arkansas for the longest in the nation. Even after the divorce is finally processed, there is another three-month review period before the judge’s decree is finalized.

How Minnesota Compares

Minnesota requires at least one spouse to live in the state for 180 days prior to filing a divorce, however, if the party is really determined to separate assets, he/she can file for a legal separation at any time. The cost of filing for divorce in Minnesota is approximately $400, but low income parties can receive a fee waiver called an IFP (In Forma Pauperis).

If the parties enter an agreement regarding the terms of their divorce, or if there is a court trial disposing of all of the remaining issues, then the judge has 90 days to make a decision and sign off on the divorce. If there is an agreement between the parties, this process will rarely take all 90 days. However, this can depend on the complexity of the divorce, whether the parties are represented by counsel, and the judge’s availability.

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that there need be no proof that there is infidelity, abandonment or that one party wronged the other in order to get a divorce. There is no required separation period for a divorce. There are also no punitive remedies if one spouse wronged the other. The court orders an “equitable” division of marital assets and debts, rather than equal. Finally, determination of custody and parenting time are based on the “best interests of the child” (minn. Stat. 518.17) and does not favor one gender of parent over the other. In all divorce in Minnesota is much less complicated than the above states.

Costs of Raising a Child Continue to Grow in the United States

Child Support CostsA new report by the United States Department of Agriculture found that the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 continues to increase.

According to the data, on average it costs $245,340 dollars to raise a child born in 2013 to the age of 18, and that doesn’t include college tuition. If parents want to help their child through college they can tack on $18,390 a year for a public university and $40,920 a year for a private school.

The projected costs rose 1.8 percent compared to the 2012 estimate. Researchers also noted that total costs fluctuate depending on geographical location and whether or not a family lives in a rural or urban center. For example, an average family living in the urban Northeast can expect to pay almost $282,500 to raise a child, while those in the rural South have average expenses of about $193,500.

In their report, a pie chart documents what type of expenses make up the total cost of raising a child. Housing is the biggest expense, making up 30 percent of total expenses, followed  by child care and education (18 percent), food (16 percent) and transportation (14 percent).

Child Care and Support

When comparing the findings to data collected in the 1960’s, comparably, expense percentages haven’t changed much. Back in 1960, housing made up 31 percent of total expenses, food made up 24 percent, and transportation accounted for 16 percent, meaning that none of those percentages have fluctuated by more than eight percent in 53 years.

Interestingly, the piece of the pie that has grown the most over the years is costs associated with child care and education. Back in 1960, families could expect to spend about two percent of their annual income on childcare expenses, but that number has ballooned to 18 percent in 2013.

This increase is one reason why child support functions the way that it does. As the cost of raising a child increases, so too will child support obligations, especially if one partner was the breadwinner while the other was a stay at home parent. If that parent is now tasked with getting back into the workforce after many years, good work can be tough to come by, and daycare costs are on the rise. Even if the parent finds a job, their monthly budget may be minuscule after accounting for daycare costs, food and clothing for their child, and routine clinic visits.

These rising costs are a primary reason why you should strongly consider hiring an attorney for your divorce. They can help you through the process and ensure you get the support you need to raise your child while you get accustomed to life after a divorce. If you have any questions about child support, including how to file, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Rise of Divorce: A State-by-State Analysis

Divorce RatesWith the exception of Wyoming, Vermont and Georgia, every state in America saw an increase in the number of divorced residents living in their state since 2007.

The analysis published on examined the change in the number of residents age 15 and older who were divorced in 2012 compared to similar data collected in 2007. The five states that had the biggest increase in the number of divorced residents were:

  • Maine – 1.8%
  • North Dakota – 1.7%
  • West Virginia – 1.7%
  • Iowa – 1.6%
  • Arkansas 1.5%

Minnesota fell right in the middle of the spectrum, posting a 0.7% increase in the number of divorced residents. The Land of 10,000 Lakes came in at 24th on the list, finishing tied with eight other states.

Wyoming was the only state to see a decrease in the number of divorced residents since 2007. It reported a 0.2% decrease, while Vermont and Georgia were at the same rate reported in 2007.

Highest Divorce Rates

While Maine may have seen the biggest increase in the number of divorced residents, it doesn’t boast the highest percentage of divorced residents. That title goes Nevada, where 14.6% of the population is divorced. Nevada is followed by Maine (14.2%), Oklahoma (13.5%), Oregon (13.4%) and West Virginia (13.3%).

The data reveals that 10.2% of Minnesotans reported they were divorced during data collection in 2012. Compared to the rest of the country, Minnesota ranked in a tie for 39th in terms of total percentage of divorced residents.

Related source: Bloomberg

Tweet and “Like” Your Way to a Divorce 

Social Media PitfallsSocial media has plenty of benefits. You can stay up to date with your friends and track down long lost college roommates, but it also has a dark side. Social media can lead to a decrease in happiness, breed narcissism and cyber bullying, and according to a recent study, lead to divorce.

A new study published in Computers and Human Behavior found a correlation between social media use and divorce rates in the United States.

Researchers conducted a two-part study to examine the effects of social media and martial happiness. In the first part of the study, researchers looked at state-by-state divorce rates and per-capita Facebook accounts. In the second part of the study, researchers analyzed a survey that asked couples about their marriage quality and the average time they spend on social media sites.

After compiling all the data researchers uncovered:

  • A 20 percent annual increase in Facebook membership was associated with a 2.18 to 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates depending on the location.
  • A married person who does not use social media is, on average, 11 percent happier than a heavy social media user.
  • Overall, there was an inverse relationship between martial happiness and time spent on social media in both studies.

“Although it may seem surprising that a Facebook profile, a relatively small factor compared to other drivers of human behavior, could have a significant statistical relationship with divorce rates and marital satisfaction, it nonetheless seems to be the case,” the authors wrote.

The findings were interesting, but the authors stopped short of saying there was a causal relationship between marital dissatisfaction and social media use. They reasoned that individuals going through a rough patch in their marriage might turn to their social networks for support, which would explain the increase in social media. However, they did hypothesis that the addictive nature of social media could lead to martial strife, and they added that certain sites could help facilitate an extramarital affair, which in turn could lead to divorce.

Related source: CNBC

Does My Employer Get to Choose My Workplace Injury Doctor?

Work Injury DoctorIf you have had a workplace injury and your employer sent you to a doctor they chose, it is important that you act quickly to obtain a doctor who is on your side. Your doctor and his or her diagnosis lays the foundation for your workers’ compensation claim.

This means that having the right doctor can be the difference between getting your medical bills and wage loss paid or getting your claim denied.

Such an important decision should not be left up to your employer. Employers will try to protect themselves from workers’ compensation claims to avoid increased insurance premiums. A successful workers’ compensation claim may also draw attention to unsafe work environments, which could result in workplace safety penalties. Ultimately, your employer has many reasons to try to protect the company and will not have your best interest at heart when choosing a doctor.

Know Your Right to Choose

Under Minnesota law, employees have the right to choose their physician if they are not part of a managed care plan. We often see employers that tell their employees that they have to go to their doctor or else they don’t get benefits. This is simply incorrect.

There is nothing more personal and important than your physical health, and your employer should not be given the right to make these very personal decisions. Almost as important as your physical health is your financial health. Most of us cannot afford to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills and weeks of lost wages. Without the right doctor, both your physical and financial health could be devastated. If your employer is pressuring you to see a doctor they selected, you are will be far better off choosing your own doctor.

However, before you make a change to a new doctor, you must first make sure that changing your primary physician complies with the workers’ compensation rules.

Rules and 60-Day Deadline

Minnesota workers’ compensation requires employees follow the workers’ compensation rules. Under these rules, a doctor becomes your “primary” doctor after you have seen him or her only twice. Once you have established a primary doctor, you must be careful to properly follow the administrative rules when changing doctors.

If you change doctor without following these rules, your employer may no longer have to pay for your medical bills! Here are the basics of what you need to know and additional resources:

Employees can change their primary physician one time within 60 days from starting their medical treatment. However, after 60 days, it is much harder to change physicians, and even impossible in some circumstances. For example, the rules require employees to get employer, insurer, or judge approval to change their physician after 60 days. To learn more about these rules, see Minnesota Administrative Rule 5221.0430.

If your employer or their insurer is pushing you to a doctor or clinic of their choosing, we highly suggest immediately seeking the advice of an attorney for two reasons. First of all, as mentioned, there is a time component involved here and an attorney can assess where you stand and possibly get a doctor change approved even after the deadline. Secondly, in our experience an employer recommended doctor is a major red flag. Employers and work comp insurance companies who try to influence medical care tend to be the kind of companies who will do everything they can to deny you the benefits you have coming to you.  Therefore, it’s better to have someone on your side as early as possible.

Ben and Katie Represent H&L at Tough Mudder

Our firm loves to take on new challenges, whether it be in the court of law or on our own time. That’s why we want to take a moment to congratulate Ben Heimerl and Katie Lammers for conquering the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Tough Mudder 2014 this past weekend.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Tough Mudder, participants have to traverse a 10-12 mile course littered with obstacles en route to the finish line. The original course was designed by British Special Forces as a way of training combatants to overcome both physical and mental obstacles. Aside from being physically demanding, the course also asks runners to conquer some personal fears, like:

  • Heights
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Electrical Shock

The run certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. On average, only 78 percent of individuals who start the race cross the finish line, so we were certainly excited to see Ben and Katie cross the finish line with smiles on their faces. So not only are the attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, but you can also call them tough mudders! Check out a few photos from the race below!

Tough Mudder H&LH&L Tough Mudder









Congratulations to both Ben and Katie. You made us all proud!

Heimerl & Lammers Honored By Super Lawyers Magazine 

Super LawyersWe are pleased to announce that all five partners at Heimerl & Lammers have been recognized this year by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Leading the way was Katie Lammers, who earned the Super Lawyer distinction. No more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state earn the Super Lawyer honor each year. Congratulations to Katie! Thank you for all the hard work you do with our Family Law practice.

We’re also excited to announce that Super Lawyers Magazine has named Ben, Mike, Kelsey and Amanda Rising Stars. This is the third year in a row Ben and Mike have been named Rising Stars, and it’s the first year Kelsey and Amanda have earned the distinction.

In order to be eligible for the Rising Star award, a practitioner must be under 40 years of age and have been practicing law 10 years or less. Only 2.5 percent of attorneys who don’t earn the Super Lawyer award are named a Rising Star. Great work Ben, Mike, Amanda and Kelsey.

For more information about the awards, swing on over to the Super Lawyers website. There you’ll find information on the selection process as well as biographies for all award winners. Or feel free to click on one of the partners below to be taken to their Super Lawyers page.

Congratulations to all five partners on their awards, and thank you for all you do. Keep up the hard work!

Related source: Super Lawyers Magazine