Firm Overview

Family law matters really do matter.  Kathleen Murphy is an experienced attorney who practices exclusively in family law and may be able to help with your family law concern.

Kathleen is a creative problem-solver and focuses on finding practical, long-term solutions to family law problems.  Communication is key and clients feel heard and well-informed throughout the proceeding.  From start to finish, Kathleen invests in getting it right the first time so parties can move in a positive direction after the matter is resolved.   

When children are involved, Kathleen’s priority is: put the child first.  In the long run, working toward a result that is in the child’s best interest leads to a more positive outcome than trying to prove that one side is right and the other side is wrong.  Staying focused on what is best for the child reduces the chance of frequent disputes after the case is closed. 

Times have changed for the better for resolving family legal disputes.  Today, parties are more likely to settle amicably with the help of trained mediators and collaborative or cooperative practices.  These “alternative dispute resolution” strategies reduce the stress of being in an adversarial process and are less costly if both parties are committed to reaching an agreement.  The best settlement is one that is fair, mutually acceptable, realistic, and able to meet one’s financial needs and parenting responsibilities in the future. Kathleen Murphy is trained in mediation and uses her skills to negotiate out-of-court settlements for her clients while diligently representing their priorities and interests.  If a settlement cannot be reached and the assistance of the court is necessary, Kathleen’s years of litigation experience will continue to navigate toward a good outcome. 

NOTE: Minnesota requires the initiating party to provide the court with documentation of settlement efforts prior to the hearing date.  Read more in the “Take Note” section.  

Every family is unique.  Whether there are children or no children, or the structure is traditional or non-traditional, your family law issue is unique too.  Kathleen M. Murphy – Attorney at Law is dedicated to getting it right the first time and finding a solution that works best for you.

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Kathleen Murphy

Attorney Profile

Kathleen Murphy has been in practice since 1999.  Her legal career has always focused on family law.  She is a long-time active member of the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Hennepin County Bar Association and serves on several committees.  Kathleen served for many years as a volunteer guardian ad litem and she is also a registered nurse.  Prior to practicing law, Kathleen worked in civil service as a public health nurse and then on the team that launched MinnesotaCare and its predecessor, the Children’s Health Plan.

Education
J.D., 1999, admitted to practice in Minnesota
Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota

Masters, Public Health
University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota

B.S., Nursing
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

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Areas of Practice

Ms. Murphy is licensed to practice in Minnesota and accepts cases regarding:

  • Divorce (with or without children)
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Paternity (issues relating to children when parents are not married)
  • Parenting Time (visitation)
  • Grandparent Visitation
  • Third Party Custody or Visitation

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Why Choose Murphy

As the principal attorney and owner of this firm, Kathleen Murphy provides high quality legal representation that is reasonably priced. Kathleen is responsive and sensitive to clients during the stressors of a legal proceeding while focusing on the opportunity for positive change.  Her office takes pride in being environmentally responsible through recycling, storing files electronically, and minimizing paper use whenever possible.

Choosing an attorney is a personal endeavor.  As you search, ask the questions that are important to you.  Kathleen Murphy will do her best to answer them.  You deserve an attorney who strives to get it right from the beginning.  Your family law matter really does matter.

For an initial consultation call (612) 659-9108 or email: km@kmurphylaw.com.

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Take Note

Settlement Efforts Are Required Before the Court Date

For years, Minnesota courts have encouraged parties to settle their disputes amicably whenever possible.  When parties settle instead of litigate, they are more satisfied with the outcome, their resources are conserved, and the growing demands on the court system are more manageable.  Studies show that when parties cooperate in reaching an agreement, they are more likely to stay in compliance with the final order because the parties, not the court, created the provisions in the order.  Reducing conflict is in keeping with the nature of a “civil society,” and is particularly good for children.

Minnesota’s family courts require that before starting a family legal proceeding, the initiating party must first try to settle the issue before filing a motion in court.  The “settlement conference” can be requested in person, by phone, or in writing.  It is not necessary that an agreement (settlement) actually be reached – only that the initiating party make efforts to settle before the court date.  The initiating party must file a “Certificate of Settlement Efforts” up to 24 hours before the court hearing.  If he or she fails to do so, the motion will not be heard unless excused for good cause.   

Mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods are not always appropriate.  For example, when domestic abuse has occurred which creates an imbalance of power, the abused party might be intimidated into settling.  Thus, the assistance of the court will be needed from the very beginning of the legal proceeding.  If such an exception applies, then the party is not required to try settling first.

The takeaway message is that the rule is strict – Unless an exception applies, if initiating parties do not file a “Certificate of Settlement Efforts” in a timely way, they run the risk of not getting their day in court.  This applies to all initiating parties, even those who represent themselves.

To read the rule, click here and scroll down to 303.03(c), “Settlement Efforts”.

Child Support in Minnesota – A Few Nuances

Minnesota’s child support guidelines require that three types of child support must be ordered: 1) Basic Support; 2) Child Care Support, and 3) Medical Support.  Basic Support is for food, clothing, shelter, etc… Child Care Support is for work-related or education-related child care costs.  Medical Support is for the cost of health insurance for the child and uninsured or unreimbursed health care expenses.

Click here to calculate child support on-line.

The Employment Factor When Calculating Child Support

Child support is based on both parents’ incomes.  This is called the Income Shares Model.  When calculating child support, it is presumed by the court that both parents can be gainfully employed full-time. In most cases, this means 40 hours per week.  If a parent is not fully employed, the court may “impute” income to that parent based on work skills and earning history.  Child support is then based on the imputed income and not the actual income of that parent.

A parent who is not working full-time must be able to show the court why and also show that he or she is making a good faith effort to find full-time work.  Searching for the right job in the right field is not easy – especially in a fluctuating economy and a constantly changing job market.  A good approach is to keep documentation of job searches, applications, and correspondence from prospective employers – including emails and other electronic communication.  This will help the court understand the facts.   The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is an excellent resource for researching job markets in specific fields and geographic regions.  The DEED website also provides links to current job postings.  More is better here – more documentation of efforts to be fully employed will help get a fair and reasonable decision on child support.

There are exceptions to the full-time work requirement, and if an exception applies, then the parent does not have to show that he or she is making a good faith effort to find full-time work.  For example, if a child is too young or has special needs that would make full-time work unreasonable or is not in the child’s best interests.  Another example is if a parent is enrolled in school or training and can show that it will improve employability and ultimately increase income.  

Click here to read Minn. Stat. 518A.32.

Check job listings on the DEED website.

Click here to check detailed occupation data by geographical region.

Medical Support and the Affordable Care Act

When figuring out medical support, parents must decide who will carry health insurance for the child.  If the child is already enrolled in a parent’s health insurance – usually through the parent’s employer – the coverage must continue unless the parents agree otherwise or the court decides that different coverage is more appropriate.  The child support order will indicate which parent will carry the dependent insurance and pay the premium and which parent will contribute to the cost of the premium by paying a certain percentage as medical support.

The dependent health insurance must be “appropriate,” that is, comprehensive, accessible and affordable as defined in the law.

To read the Minnesota law regarding medical support, click on the following link: Minn. Stat. 518A.41

As for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare or the ACA), the “Individual Mandate” section requires all individuals to have health insurance for themselves and their dependents. If the parent is court-ordered to provide dependent coverage and fails to do so, she or he may be penalized when the tax return is filed.  The mandate also requires that the parent who claims the child as a dependent on her or his tax return must also carry the health insurance on that child.  This creates a conundrum because until now, the tax dependency exemption has not been tied to a requirement that the tax-payer must be the person who carries the health insurance for the dependent child.  More troubling is the potential for a financial penalty if the requirement is not met.   

The conflict between the Affordable Care Act and child support law is not unique to Minnesota.  States are grappling with this and solid answers will not be available for some time. 

The takeaway message is that before finalizing any child support agreement, discuss the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act with your attorney and also consult with an accountant.

Read the very lengthy Affordable Care Act.

Child Custody Best Interest Factors

It is presumed that parents know what is best for their children. When parents decide that they can no longer live together as a couple, they must make the difficult decision about how to move forward with parenting their children. Minnesota courts prefer that parents work out an agreement about child custody and parenting time. This can be done through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or early neutral evaluation. If the parents cannot reach an out-of-court agreement that is best for the children, then the court must decide based on the law that lays out the “Best Interest Factors.” Minnesota’s best interest factors for deciding child custody have gone through many changes over the years. There are currently 12 factors. Each factor is child-centered and grounded in the understanding that every child needs a safe, stable, and nurturing relationship with both parents.

Click here to read The Best Interest Factors

Moving Child to Another State – The Legal Standard is the Child’s Best Interests

The law states that if a noncustodial parent has a parenting time court order and does not agree to the custodial parent moving with the child to another state, the court must decide whether to approve the move based on what is in the child’s best interests. The law lists several factors the court must consider when determining whether the move is in the child’s best interests. The parent who is requesting the move has the burden of proving that the move is in the child’s best interests. The exception is that if the parent requesting the move has been a victim of domestic abuse by the other parent, the parent opposing the move has the burden of proving that the move is not in the child’s best interests.

The law is in Minn. Stat. 518.175, Subd. 3.

Joint Physical Custody – A Creative Model

In some situations, parents may decide to co-parent their children after the divorce without moving the children out of the family home. This form of joint physical custody is called “shared parenting in residence,” or “bird-nesting.” Shared parenting in residence is good for kids because there is less disruption during a time that is already unsettling. The children don’t have to change schools or sleep in different beds. They keep the same friends and neighbors, and their daily routines don’t change very much. The parents take turns staying with the children in the family home, based on a schedule that works for the parents.

The parents’ schedules can range from trading every week to trading every several weeks. When a parent is “off duty,” she or he stays at a different residence. In some situations, parents take turns going back and forth between the family home and a shared second residence, such as a small apartment. Otherwise, each parent maintains a separate residence for the “off-duty” time, which may include staying with a friend or relative. The point is that with shared parenting in residence, the parents work together to find a schedule that works for them while maintaining stability for their children even after the parents are no longer living together.

Shared parenting in residence is not for everyone. It works only when both parents can focus cooperatively on the children and set aside the negative emotions between them. Both parents must also be willing to put up with the inconvenience of moving between two residences. Ms. Murphy can explore this as an option for you. If it is feasible for your family, she can assist with putting together a workable plan based on your family resources and capabilities.

Deployed Military Personnel and Child Custody

Additional challenges arise when a parent is deployed in military service and a dispute arises about the care and responsibility for the children during the deployed parent’s absence. Minnesota’s Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UPDCVA) guides the court through the legal standards and procedural requirements for navigating through and resolving the dispute. An underpinning of the UDPCVA is that both parents have rights and responsibilities for their children even when one of the parents is away. This means that deployed parents should not be penalized for serving their country and non-deployed parents should not be dismissed or minimized. For example, the law requires the deploying parent to provide timely notice to the other parent that he or she will be called away and to also provide timely notice when she or he has returned home. The law further requires the court to hold an expedited hearing to resolve a custody dispute when deployment is imminent. As with all child custody disputes in Minnesota, the ultimate decision must be based on what is best for the child.

Click here to read the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act

Same-Sex Marriage in Minnesota

On May 14, 2013, a law was passed that made marriage in Minnesota gender-neutral. The law allows for marriages and divorces in Minnesota regardless of gender. It also recognizes marriages performed in other states, regardless of the gender of the persons married. How the provisions will be applied in legal matters, each with their own set of unique facts and circumstances, will require thorough analysis of the many laws relating to marriage and children that already exist. Many legal developments are anticipated as same-sex couples move forward with getting married or divorced. The best first step is to become informed about Minnesota’s law.

Read about Minnesota’s gender-neutral marriage law on the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library website.

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Attorney Photo Credits:

Dale Studios Photography

Marni Mattner Photography