MN Wild


Family Law Section


Family Law Forum | Vol. 24 No. 1 | Winter 2015-16

by Jennifer Brask | Dec 21, 2015

Letter from the Editor

As family law practitioners, it is not uncommon to have a client who has a problem with debt. Debts such as IRS debts, medical debts, or past child support play an important role during the divorce proceeding and after.  This edition of the Family Law Forum provides an in-depth look at common issues your client may face if the parties are in debt. Authors discuss such topics as: the intersection of divorce and debt in a mortgage qualification situation; divorce and bankruptcy; discussion and practice-tips for creating an enforceable child support order; consumer debt; and tax liabilities.

Our next publication will focus on working with neutrals and experts in family law.  If you are interested in writing an article on this topic, please contact Krista Schneider at

Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcomed and encouraged. We also welcome your suggestions for future topics!  We continue to work toward the goal of making the Family Law Forum a valuable benefit to you in your practice of family law.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season,

Krista Schneider, Larry McGee, and Emily Peterson
Publication Committee


Drafting Enforceable Child Support Orders

By: Sandra M. Torgerson, Dakota County Attorney’s Office, Child Support Enforcement Division Head, and Valisa L. McKinney, Assistant Dakota County Attorney

Drafting child support stipulations and orders is a common task of family law attorneys. However, creating an enforceable order is not a simple task.  A well drafted order avoids a wide range of potential problems in the area of enforcement and modification of orders.  This article provides a guide to drafting support orders that will comply with statutory requirements and better meet the needs of children, their parents, the judicial system, and the public.

Right sized” orders

The ultimate goal when determining the amount of support to be ordered is to have the obligations “right sized”.  A right sized support order considers the entire family and should not create an undue hardship for either parent or the children.  Right size does not mean striving for either the lowest or highest support obligation possible.  When support is ordered at an unattainable amount, the full amount of support ordered will not be collected and arrears will accrue.  In some situations, the support obligor may be driven into the underground economy, leaving children with little or no support.  Children are also negatively impacted when parents who have the ability to pay are subject to unrealistically low support obligations.  In either situation, the responsibility to support children may be inappropriately shifted to the other parent and/or taxpayers.  A right sized order balances the financial support obligations between both parents for the benefit of children.  Right sized orders should result in timely, consistent, and full payments of support.  The order should reflect a balance of common sense and good public policy, while following state and federal laws. Read more...

Consumer Debt 101 and the Intersection with Family Law

By: Randall Ryder

Divorce and Debt from a Mortgage Perspective

By: Mitch Irwin

Planning for the Inevitable: Divorce and Bankruptcy

By: Barbara May

Divorce Decree Drafting: Position Your Client for Success in Obtaining Relief from Joint and Several Tax Liability

By: Kathleen E. Splett

Annual Report

MSBA Family Law Section
Annual Report

Section Membership
As of June 19, 207, the Section has 997 members.

Financial Status
The Section had an account balance of $52,736.99 as of May 31, 2017.

CLEs & Events
The Section hosted 9 CLE programs in fiscal year 2016-17. 

Program Title


Event Code

CLE Credits

Number of Attendees

Ethical Pitfalls in Family Law



1 Ethics


20 Technology Tips for Making You More Productive



1 Law Office Management


Standards of Practice for Custody Evaluations



1 Standard


Chronic Stress, Trauma, Mental Health and Addiction in the Legal Profession



1 Elimination of Bias



Interstate Child Support and Child Custody Matters



1 Standard


The Impact of Retirement on Spousal Maintenance



1 Standard


Legislative Update



1 Standard


When Your Client is Impaired – Addiction, Mental Health and Other Issues for Attorneys



1 Elimination of Bias



Family Court Enhancement Project – Improving Access to Justice



1 Standard




Annual Meeting and Election Results
The Section’s Annual Meeting was held on May 13, 2017 and 48 people attended.

The following council members were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 2017 to 2018:

Mary Lauhead
Michael Dittberner
Rana Alexander
Tami Peterson
Niecie Strand
Amy Sauter
Victoria Taylor
Michael Boulette
Pete Radosevich
Karen Kugler
Tiffane Wolter
Jill Meyer

The following officers were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 2017 to 2018:

Chair: Sara Runchey
Vice Chair: W. Bradley Frago
Secretary: Shannon Wachter
Treasurer: Ryan Anderson
Past Chair: Margaret Erickson

Diversity and Inclusion 
We continue to discuss inclusion, and we welcome suggestions from members and others to improve our diversity.

Meetings are held in an accessible space. We offer remote participation as an option at monthly meetings, so that distance, disability, or other obstacles are less likely to be barriers.  The CLE offerings are planned so that brand-new attorneys as well as those with years of experience can learn something.

Two Elimination of Bias credits were offered at monthly section meetings. Attendees at the Family Law Institute could earn up to three EOB credits at that event, where the keynote speaker, Justice Anne McKeig, the first Minnesota Supreme Court Justice of Native American heritage, described how her own background shaped her approach to her later work in child protection and Indian Child Welfare Act cases.

Institute attendees were reminded to fill out the demographic data at if they were MSBA members (and encouraged to join if they were not).

Other Section Accomplishments
The Section can be proud of the work of its committees: the Amicus committee monitors appellate decisions and keeps members informed of significant case law. The committee authored one Amicus brief this year. The Domestic Abuse committee meets to discuss protecting victims of violence. Committee members participate in writing and publishing articles and co-presenting CLE events. The Legislation committee keeps members current on pending and proposed legislation, and coordinates with the MSBA’s lobbyists to advance the Section’s position on various bills. The Publications committee publishes the Family Law Forum, covering topics of interest to family law practitioners.

Submitted By:
Margaret Erickson, Section Chair
Date: 30 June 2017