At Sauro & Bergstrom PLLC, we provide sound legal counsel and representation for clients throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul area of Minnesota in all areas of Family Law, including:
Custody and Parenting
Prenuptial and Post Nuptial Agreements
The partners at Sauro & Bergstrom bring a wealth of experience and insight into the divorce process and the many highly emotional issues involved with dissolving a marriage, establishing fair parenting plans and financial support, and addressing the wide range of financial challenges that every person faces when a marriage comes to an end.
We understand that every divorce is unique. We listen to your individual situation, evaluate the pros and cons with you, and provide sound legal and practical advice based on your goals and the tools available in the legal system. In a time when it appears that everything is falling apart, we will help you put the legal pieces together that are necessary to move your life forward. We will provide you with sound guidance to help you navigate the complicated legal issues that will impact everything that is most important to you: your family, your children, your finances, and your future.
With decades of legal experience as trial lawyers, Sauro & Bergstrom understand the emotional and financial stress of any contentious divorce proceeding. Our approach is calm, focused and professional at all times. As seasoned litigators, we understand that a full-fledged “battle” may be the best (and only) course of action in some cases, but there are many options available including mediation, early neutral evaluation, and good old-fashioned compromise that may better serve your needs, the needs of your family and your ultimate goals. We will help you understand your options and the pros and cons of each, from a financial, stress level, and parenting perspective.
Custody and Parenting
The lawyers at Sauro & Bergstrom understand that your greatest concern in life is the well-being of your children. While some custody disputes are simply divorce-related, that is not always the case. Years after divorce, a modification is sometimes needed. In other cases, a grandparent or another emergency custody petition has to be filed in order to protect the child from a dangerous situation such as a parent that is abusing drugs or alcohol, has mental illness, or is creating an unsafe environment for the child through abuse or neglect. The court’s focus will always be on trying to make the decision that is in the best interests of the child. The lawyers at Sauro & Bergstrom will always fight for you and your children in court and by negotiating child custody agreements for approval by the court. Where your child is endangered, we will fight to protect your rights and the rights of your children through litigation in an emergency custody proceeding.
Child support is a critical issue for any unmarried parent who will be raising a child, regardless of whether you and the child’s other parent were ever married or not. As part of any divorce involving minor children, the issue of child support must be addressed fairly for both parents. Even after a divorce, life changes, and so can child support obligations. The lawyers at Sauro & Bergstrom will help you understand how the child support numbers are calculated and how much you owe or are entitled to from the other parent. For high income earners, we can help you understand what your obligation is and the caps that apply. Our lawyers also understand the role that medical, dental, extracurricular, tuition, and split custody situations play in the child support process. If there has been a change in circumstances since your divorce or your child support order was established, our lawyers can also help you get a modification so that the amount that you pay or receive is fair and reasonable.
Our lawyers can help you resolve paternity issues, whether you are a mother or a father seeking to have paternity established. We understand the importance of establishing paternity as a matter of law in order for custody and child support issues to be resolved. Until the father of a child is legally established, he does not have any rights to parenting time with his own child. He also does not have any obligation to pay child support. The court only issues custody and child support after paternity has been established.
If there is a question about who the father of the child is, the first step is typically a DNA test. Married fathers are presumed to be the child’s father. However, in today’s society it is common for parents to be unmarried when a child is born. Many fathers assume their names are on the birth certificate and that they have rights to spend time with the child and make legal decisions about the child’s well-being. Yet, that may not be the case. Where parents are unmarried, the father’s paternity is NOT presumed, meaning the father may have no legal rights and no legal obligation to pay child support. Paternity needs to be established in court before any order can be issued on a father’s paternal rights or obligations.
Blended families are a way of life in this day and age. Many times, when a step-parent takes on a full-time parenting role for an absentee biological parent, there is desire to adopt that child. Because parenting rights and the best interest of the child are so important in the legal system, there are a number of steps that are required in order for a step-parent to adopt a child.
The parental rights of the biological father or mother must be terminated. This is usually done through a voluntary process. However, in some cases, involuntary termination is necessary where the biological parent will not consent and can be accomplished if the step-parent is ready to adopt the child and other statutory requirements are met.
After terminating the biological parent’s rights, the adoption paperwork is completed including a petition, affidavits, proposed order for the court to sign, and request to amend the birth certificate of the minor child. The documents are then filed with the court in the county where the child is residing.
After the paperwork is filed, the court must approve the adoption. The county may conduct a background check on the step-parent, and once that has been accomplished, the case is ready for the Judge to set a hearing to formalize the adoption.
The parties must appear in court for the hearing, along with the child being adopted. Other family members are typically welcome to attend as well. A number of questions must be answered by the parties before the judge about the requested adoption. The judge may also have additional questions for the parents and for the child (depending on the age). If everything meets the judge’s satisfaction, the adoption will be granted and an order issued that legally changes the status of the step-parent and child relationship to one equivalent to a birth parent.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Sauro & Bergstrom know the importance of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to protect your assets before marriage or once you are already married. These agreements allow the parties to craft their own unique plan for how assets and debts will be distributed once the marriage ends, either by dissolution or by death. Often overlooked as being “unromantic” or assuming the worst, there are very practical reasons for entering into prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Love and money are very separate and having a financial agreement in place can give both parties peace of mind that love is truly the reason for the marriage, not finances.
Statistically, more than 50% of marriages end in divorce and the divorce process is very often emotionally and financially difficult. When emotions run high, it is not uncommon for one divorcing spouse to make a “money grab” or unfairly leverage assets to gain power in the situation and “starve” the other spouse financially. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement provides peace of mind that any divorce process will be easier and much more rational. In that way, these agreements can actually enhance the loving relationship of a marriage by reducing the likelihood of financial vengeance if your marriage falls in the majority statistic and is dissolved.
For high income earners and people who marry (or remarry) later in life, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can also ensure that your assets are distributed to the children and heirs of your choosing and not automatically “default” to your spouse in the event of death or divorce.
To learn more about how Sauro & Bergstrom PLLC can help you with your specific family law needs, please call us at 651-389-9915 for a free consultation. You may also fill out our contact form and someone from our office will contact you.