Author: David Grossman

We Are Thrilled To Announce!

We are thrilled to announce Nancy Zalusky Berg has been recognized in the 27th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, and Ruta Johnsen has been included in the Inaugural Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for their work in Family Law.

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Social Media Mindfulness: Think before you post!

By Ruta Johnsen
My colleague, Nancy Zalusky Berg, once told me, “You never truly know someone until you go through a divorce with them.” Suddenly—under the pressure of pending divorce proceedings, mediations, and custody evaluations—the person you had vowed to love until death do you part is unrecognizable.

As the acrimony builds, some people turn to sharing their stories publicly. Because attorneys tend to limit the information presented to the Court, it is natural that one of the persons (if not both) may feel like they have not been allowed to tell their story, that they have been prevented from being heard. Queue social media platforms for the storytelling.

It is not uncommon to see a GoFundMe page focused on financing a custody fight, a blog series about the court systems, or Facebook rants about a divorce proceeding that did not go favorably. This type of behavior typically prompts the disparaged person to seek an order from the Court prohibiting the disparaging person from posting disparaging remarks about them or the divorce on social media. These requests are frequently granted.

On May 9, 2020, the New York Times ran a story about a recent case from Massachusetts dealing with this exact issue. The parties in the midst of a divorce proceeding were prohibited from posting disparaging remarks about each other on social media until their son reached the age of 14 years old. The Judge specifically prohibited the parties from using specific expletives to describe each other and posting photos of their son in inappropriate poses. The Court placed this order on hold to be reviewed on constitutional grounds. In a landmark decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found this order to be unconstitutional. You can read the full decision here.

In Minnesota, in a final stipulated order, it is common practice amongst family law attorneys to include a clause that prohibits either parent from making disparaging remarks to the children about the other parent. The courts also include such a clause in their orders. Whether by stipulation or an order by the Court, the “non-disparagement” clause is typically limited to comments made by the parents to the child.

But even if there is nothing in your final order prohibiting you from sharing your story and your feelings about your ex-spouse or co-parent on social media, should you really do it? The answer is NO. Will it feel good to blast him/her? Sure. Will it feel liberating to let all your friends and followers know “the Truth?” Absolutely, but the euphoria won’t last, and neither will some of your friendships. Will it solve any problems? Not one bit, but it will sure create some new ones.

Read the full decision here:

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Covid-19 and NZB

The Covid-19 Virus and NZB Family Law:

Our team is healthy, working from home and open for business remotely. While we miss the comradery of being together in person at the office, we are loving and adapting to our virtual world!

Orders from Governor Tim Walz and our Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, as well as the various district courts’ chief judges, are coming out frequently. (See HERE and HERE). These changing orders require even the most experienced lawyers to pivot, turn, and adapt as the circumstances demand.

During this difficult and unprecedented time, we encourage our clients to continue to put their best foot forward in dealing with other parties involved in their matters. As one judge said:

“In family court we are used to dealing with parenting disputes. But right now, it’s not “business as usual” for any of us. The court system will always be here to deal with truly urgent matters, especially involving children. But that means there will be little time or tolerance for people who don’t take parenting responsibilities or COVID-19 seriously.”

Other judicial officers have made note that a lack courtesy and civility now will negatively affect how the court judges parties in the future.

Answers to what we anticipate will be often-asked questions:

    • Yes, you can still commence a divorce – or any other family court proceeding – during the pandemic. All filings are electronic, and most hearings will be handled remotely by video conferencing and phone.
    • We have no idea where the inevitable financial crisis will hit first and hardest. Use caution in all matters financial. If you are subject to a court order regarding payments of financial support – you must make those payment or seek a modification of the order. You can’t just stop paying because you are out of work.
    • Existing orders regarding parenting time must be followed. Work with your co-parent to be transparent about compliance with existing pandemic orders.

This post does not offer legal advice, but rather practical considerations during this difficult time. To discuss how we can serve your legal needs, contact us HERE

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Seven Guidelines for Parents Who Are Divorced/Separated and Sharing Custody of Children During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Parenting during or after a divorce can be challenging enough without a pandemic looming in the background. These are unprecedented times. With schools closed, expectations of social distancing, and anxieties running high, it is important to stay calm and level-headed. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts put together a brief, but helpful guide for parents sharing custody of children during COVID-19 Pandemic.

See the guide HERE

Although team NZB is weathering this storm remotely, we are available to answer questions and help you navigate this difficult topic.

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New US Supreme Court Decision on Parental Kidnapping

Parental child abduction is an unfortunate side effect of our global community. International travel is easy, accessible to many, and frequently, not cost-prohibitive. Whether for work or for pleasure, people relocate, set roots in a foreign jurisdiction – new home. However, sometimes bliss does not last, and people find themselves looking for their way home. When a scenario like that involves children, where is home?

On February 25, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a long-awaited decision defining “habitual residence” in The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention). While habitual residence is among key considerations in application and analysis of The Hague Convention cases, the term itself was not defined in The Hague Convention or the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), which implemented The Hague Convention in the United States. Until this opinion, the term also had been interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lack of direction from The Hague Convention, ICARA, and the Supreme Court, had resulted in split circuits’ definition, and much debate in the International Family Law community.

The SCOTUS concluded that a child’s habitual residence depends on the particular circumstances of each case. SCOTUS noted that no single factor is dispositive of all cases, and there are no categorical requirements for establishing a child’s habitual residence. Read the full opinion HERE

Here at Nancy Zalusky Berg Family Law, we are experienced in successfully handling the difficult experience of parental child abduction under The Hague Convention, as well as UCCJEA. We have served many parents who have gone through this experience and offer our legal expertise to our clients. Learn more about our experience in Interstate and International Family Law HERE

By Ruta Johnsen, Associate



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