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Are you waiting to adopt? These struggles may sound familiar

If you're waiting to adopt a newborn baby in Minnesota, you may have to wait for an extended period. Your adoption will eventually happen, but it could take longer than you were hoping. During this nerve-wracking waiting time, you can expect to deal with some unique struggles.

A few things you'll have to get used to while you're waiting to adopt:

A new trend in desserts: Divorce cakes

There's a new trend that could be hitting Minnesota bakeries: divorce cakes. We have cakes for birthdays, cakes for weddings and cakes for baby showers, so why not cakes for divorce? After all, if you focus on the positive aspects of your divorce, you're stepping into a new stage of life and, hopefully, it will be stage that's a great deal happier.

It doesn't appear that any Twin Cities divorcees have caught onto this trend -- which has showed up in other cities around the United States -- because local bakeries haven't reported getting these kinds of orders. However, that doesn't mean that bakeries aren't ready to make them. One local cake maker said, "We have really wanted to make them, but we haven't had any requests for them yet."

Could your spouse be hiding assets in your divorce?

It's not uncommon for hidden assets to become a factor in a Minnesota divorce. It might happen something like this: Your spouse told you that he or she was earning about $3,000 per month throughout the course of your 10-year marriage. However, the income was actually about $15,000. All the extra earnings were going into a secret bank account that you were never aware of.

Now that you're getting a divorce, your spouse needs to disclose the assets saved in the hidden bank account because they are part of your marital estate and will be subject to the asset division process. In fact, with a select few exceptions, virtually all assets acquired by you and your spouse after the date of your marriage will be included within your marital estate and subject to division.

Adoption numbers are down, but not due to a shortage of parents

Approximately 110,000 adoptions happen in the United States each year. However, this number appears to be declining because of several new trends that are making it more difficult to adopt. Adoption figures, for example, have dropped nationally by 15 percent over the last decade.

To some extent, the drop in adoptions is due to new restrictions in countries that have long been a popular source of adoptions, like China and Russia. Nevertheless, the number of parents who want to adopt in the United States has not decreased. It's just that they have to wait longer, and sometimes pay more money, to get the child they so desperately long for.

How the 'innocent spouse' defense can work for you

If you are divorcing, you may discover secrets about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, that may set you aflame with anger. Indeed, extra-marital affairs, and illegitimate children can complicate things, but these might be the least of your worries. You might also find that your ex has been cheating on your tax returns for years, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is trying to hold you jointly liable.

If you wonder how this could be, consider this: signing one’s tax return is a requirement, and it is legally an affirmation that you know and understand the contents of the return, even if you had little if anything to do in preparing it. For spouses, as well as ex-spouses who are caught in this dilemma, they may be able to apply the “innocent spouse” defense.

Was the name-change order missing from your divorce papers?

Many ex-wives choose to switch their names back to their original maiden names following divorce. However, the name-switch is not automatic. If you want to change your name, you have to include special language in your divorce papers.

Even if you've already finalized your divorce without a court order to change your name, you might be able to modify your divorce papers after the fact. Once the judge approves your request, you can use a certified copy of the divorce order as proof that you've returned to your former name. In some cases, even if you didn't include language in your divorce papers, you might be able to simply start using your maiden name again and request the change on your personal accounts and records. Often, all that is required is your birth certificate or an old passport to do this.

21 children find adoptive homes in the Twin Cities

There is nothing more beautiful than the act of adopting a child. It is beautiful for the parents who will get to discover, or rediscover, the joys of parenting. It is just as beautiful for the children themselves, many of whom do not know yet the degree to which their lives will be radically transformed with love and nurturing in their new adoptive homes.

Last Saturday was National Adoption Day, and in the Twin Cities area, 21 children and their adoptive families had something very special to celebrate. The children were officially adopted on this important commemorative day. The adoptions were finalized by District Court judges at the Juvenile Justice Center.

Proposed law bolsters inheritance rights of same-sex spouses

One of the most important benefits of same-sex marriage is the fact that married couples benefit from Minnesota state inheritance laws. Without a marriage and without a will, the romantic partner of another person won't be entitled to inherit the partner's property in the event of unforeseen death.

Before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, the lack of inheritance rights created a lot of difficulty and heartache for the same-sex partners. In some horror story situations, the same-sex partner had no choice but to stand aside as family members came and stripped his or her home of shared furniture and other possession.

The Hague Convention and international custody disputes

When you have a baby with a foreigner, you run the risk of difficult disagreements about where the baby should live in the event of a breakup. In extreme cases, a foreign spouse may try to abscond with a young child to bring the child back to his or her nation of origin. If the foreign parent succeeds in bringing the child to another country, and will not return the child, it could give rise to a serious international child custody dispute.

Specific rules and regulations will come into play in the typical international child custody dispute. Most importantly, invoking the terms of the Hague Convention could be one of the most important ways of bringing your child back home. The Hague Convention was created and agreed to by most nations in the world to bring quicker resolution to international child custody disagreements.

Are domestic partnerships obsolete?

Before the legalization of same-sex marriage across the nation, there were numerous ways that gay couples could join together through civil unions and domestic partnerships. Civil unions are similar to marriage in that the same rights and privileges tend to be awarded. With domestic partnerships, some of the rights and privileges of marriage will be conferred to the spouses.

Ever since the legalization of same-sex marriage, however, some have believed that certain states offering domestic partnerships -- including Minnesota -- may decide to revoke this legal status. Also, companies offering employment benefits to those in same-sex unions have been considering the removal of such programs. So, are domestic partnerships obsolete?

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