Family Law


When you are involved in a divorce, concerns about child custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts can seem overwhelming. There's so much to think about as you try to cope with the personal, professional, family and financial issues at stake. For many, the emotions that accompany the end of a relationship can lead to decisions that may feel good at the time, but those decisions may not be in your long-term best interests. You need to experience the emotions while your attorney maintains a clear vision to protect your legal interests. At Pladson Law Office, our attorneys, DeAnn Pladson and Kristen Hushka, help clients in North Dakota and Minnesota manage all aspects of divorce proceedings, from simple matters to complex divorce issues requiring intensive investigation and litigation.

Your Support System When Facing Divorce Challenges

Whether you and your spouse have only been married a few years or your relationship has spanned decades, dividing marital property and assets can be a difficult undertaking, not to mention the emotional factors that can play into the proceedings. As your lawyers, we focus on the legal and financial matters so you can focus on yourself and your children. Some issues we will address include:

  • Identifying and dividing marital property and assets
  • Dividing closely held businesses as well as farmland or other property
  • Division of debts
  • Determining the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities
  • Child support
  • Spousal support (alimony)

When going through a divorce, it's important to know your options. This  means understanding the pros and cons at each turn and being a part of the decision making process. Although many people view divorce as a contentious or strictly adversarial process, it doesn't have to be. We use our skills as mediators and trained parenting investigators to help you identify the best strategy for you as well as your children.

Let Our Divorce Attorneys Focus on the Legal Issues So You Can Look Toward Tomorrow

Whether you are considering filing for divorce, have questions about mediation and other ADR methods or have been served papers and need to protect your interests, give us a call at our Fargo law office to schedule a consultation with Attorney Pladson or Attorney Hushka. 


High Net Worth Divorce

In family law cases, the courts are required to equitably divide the assets and debts between the parties. While equitable doesn't always mean equal, the court must explain a substantial difference in division of assets between the parties. At Pladson Law Office, our team of attorneys will help you identify and determine values for your assets and determine the nature and extent of your debts. With more than 20 years of experience and extensive knowledge of complex financial matters affecting couples with significant assets, family-owned or closely-held businesses, farmland and other property, as well as those whose assets have become interwoven over a long marriage, we can provide clarity while protecting your interests as we work toward a solution.

Discovery is a Key Part of any High Asset or High Net Worth Divorce

When engaging in the division of property and assets, we will help you understand the different forms of discovery and the issues related to gathering the information you need to make an informed decision in a complex situation. With a comprehensive picture of your finances, we can better protect what is rightfully yours while pursuing what is most important to you. We will review your records, analyze your income, debts and other assets, all while taking appropriate steps toward ensuring that nothing is overlooked or hidden by your spouse. Below are a few methods we may use to obtain pertinent information during the discovery process:

  • Depositions:  Depositions are question and answer proceedings taken in an office and away from the court. The witness may be anyone with relevant information in the case. Most commonly, the witness is one of the parties to the case. The witness is subject to cross examination under the penalty of perjury. The deposition is one of the quickest and most efficient methods for preparing for a case; however, it can be an expensive procedure. A certified court reporter types the record of the questions asked and the answers given. The testimony is then transcribed into a written record and used in a court proceeding.
  • Interrogatories:  Interrogatories are written questions formulated to try to get the information relevant to the case out in the open. We learn about the other party's case through the use of these written questions. Once they are received, the other party must answer the question in writing and under oath. Interrogatories are a cost-effective way to gather information about assets and debts.
  • Requests for production of documents:  Requests for production of documents are used to obtain documents which may be used as evidence. Tax returns, credit card statements, bank statements, investment account statements, and other financial papers are required to be produced within a specified period of time.

As certified family law mediators and parenting investigators, Attorneys DeAnn Pladson and Kristen Hushka bring together the experience and credentials necessary to help you and your family through even the most complex divorce proceedings. By looking at potential alternative dispute resolution (ADR) strategies like mediation or collaborative divorce, we can help you find opportunities to save time, costs and alleviate much of the stress that comes from litigating these types of cases. However, if litigation is unavoidable, Attorneys Pladson and Hushka and our team are well-equipped and prepared to take your case as far as it needs to go. 


Property & Asset Division

One of the most contentious issues in a divorce can be the division of property and other marital assets. At Pladson Law Office, our goal is to help you achieve an equitable property distribution through the protection and discovery of assets. Our attorneys, DeAnn Pladson and Kristen Hushka, will work closely with you, take the time to fully understand and evaluate your finances and goals, and ultimately develop a strategy for achieving those goals through the most efficient and effective means possible.

We Look at All the Financial Factors

When it comes to a divorce, it's about more than just selling the home or dividing up the bank accounts. There are numerous other factors that need to be considered, including:

  • Debts incurred during the marriage
  • Retirement accounts and investments
  • Interests in family-owned or closely-held businesses
  • Property such as farmland and farming operations
  • Pensions
  • Social Security benefits
  • The income of each spouse
  • Real property
  • Insurance policies

As your lawyers, we will work to untangle your finances, and help you manage the information in a simple and easy to understand format. We will also explain the potential benefits of negotiating the division of your property and assets through mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods. By avoiding litigation, you and your spouse can decide the terms of your property division as well as numerous other aspects of your divorce. In the end, these ADR methods keep costs reasonable, make for more equitable and sustainable agreements and save all parties a great deal of frustration and stress. 


Allocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities

The attorney you choose can have a lasting effect on the outcome of  your divorce, other family law-related issues, and perhaps most importantly, your future. When it comes to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, your lawyer should take into account the immediate needs and goals of you and your children as well as your plans going forward.

Providing for the Best Interests of Your Kids

North Dakota and Minnesota courts require parenting plans that serve the best interests of children. The terms of these plans are affected by a number of factors as outlined by the courts. Some of these determining factors may include:

  • The past and current relationship the child has with each parent
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and work together to share custody
  • The home environment where the child will reside
  • Proximity to family, such as grandparents
  • Any special needs the child may have
  • Each parent's capacity to financially provide for the child
  • The moral fitness of the parents as that fitness affects the child (moral fitness is not clearly defined, but your attorney can explain how it may pertain to your situation)
  • The physical and mental fitness of the parents
  • The child's preference in cases where the child is old enough or mature enough to make an informed decision
  • Past reports of abuse, violence or neglect

How you and your attorney present them makes a difference. As a team of experienced family law attorneys, we often remind parents to focus on being the best parent they can be. You need to help your children cope  with the issues related to the divorce and take positive steps toward the future.

Making a Plan: Parenting Time and Visitation

As part of a parenting plan, courts require that visitation or parenting schedules be worked out before a final divorce decree is issued by the courts. By working closely with you, we can work out a plan for parenting time that takes everyone's needs and schedules into account. Whether this is an issue resolved during mediation or through complex negotiations, we will be by your side to ensure your goals are met and your desires are represented and diligently pursued.

Guiding You with Experience, Insight and Support

Knowing your rights and acting proactively is of critical importance. You can trust in the experience, skill, and personal service we will provide when you are facing divorce and a child custody dispute. With more than  20 years of experience in Minnesota and North Dakota, we have helped families with simple and complex child custody and child support negotiations, mediations, and litigation. We understand that your legal and personal concerns in your divorce or custody dispute are unique. That is why we offer the kind of personal attention that focuses on you, your goals and the best interests of your children. 

Child Support - There's More to it Than Plugging Numbers Into a Formula

In North Dakota and Minnesota, parents have a duty to support their children to the best of their abilities. Whether you are the noncustodial parent or the custodial parent (the parent who is the child's primary caretaker), it's important to understand your financial obligations, how the amount of support you are required to pay is calculated, and to ensure that your child is receiving the support he or she needs and deserves. At Pladson Law Office, our team of lawyers can explain the state child support calculators, the child support guidelines in Minnesota and North Dakota, and help you determine the amount of support you will likely be entitled to receive to care for your child. With over 20 years of experience handling family law matters and extensive knowledge of the financial factors that play into these cases, we can help your family come to timely solutions while ensuring your child's lifestyle is maintained as much as possible going forward.

Some Things to Consider Regarding Child Support and Divorce

Although calculating child support payments may sound relatively straightforward, there are numerous factors that can affect the amount. For example, the courts can order adjustments to further your child's best interests or may make changes if the amount places an undue hardship on the noncustodial parent. Furthermore, circumstances often change and you may need to revisit child support matters multiple times after you and the other parent of your child go separate ways. When starting out, we can help you determine what sources of income belonging to the noncustodial parent will factor into the amount of support your child will receive, including:

  • Salary, wages, commissions and bonuses
  • Gambling winnings
  • Pensions
  • Severance pay
  • Payments from a trust
  • Royalties or dividends
  • Veterans' benefits, workers' comp benefits and Social Security
  • For underemployed or unemployed noncustodial parents, the court may impute income

We  can work with you to determine the gross income as well as understanding the deductions that result in the net income (the amount that determines the amount of support due). 



Dispute Resolution: Helping Couples Find Timely, Cost-Effective and Creative Solutions

When people think of divorce, they often picture couples arguing, each spouse's attorney battling for the marital home and other property, and the kids getting caught up in the middle. Although divorce proceedings are considered adversarial, the truth is that they don't have to be. At Pladson Law Office, we help our clients in the Fargo-Moorhead area and throughout North Dakota and Minnesota explore alternative methods for resolving disputes — such as mediation or collaborative divorce. These alternatives to litigation offer couples opportunities to reach agreements, retain control over the outcome of their negotiations, compromise and complete their divorce as quickly as possible, quietly and cost-effectively.

The Credentials, Experience and Commitment You Deserve

At our firm, we understand that no two divorces are alike. Just as the relationship you have with your spouse or children is unique, so too are your goals and needs as you move toward a solution. Instead of putting the outcome of your divorce and your future in the hands of the courts, why not explore opportunities to retain control, reach a solution that benefits all parties and ultimately spares you many of the headaches that come with going to trial? Attorneys DeAnn Pladson and Kristen Hushka are trained and certified family law mediators and parenting investigators. In addition to her private practice, Attorney Pladson works with the state of North Dakota's Family Mediation Program and has helped numerous people resolve their disputes through negotiations. Whether you are looking for an experienced and skilled lawyer to represent you during mediation proceedings or wish to hire our firm as a mediator for your family law dispute, we can explain the potential benefits of mediation or other alternative dispute resolution strategies. 


Mediation: Resolving Disputes While Saving Time, Money and Keeping You In Control

Traditional court litigation requires a level of formality that can burden a divorcing couple with great expense and delay. A trial can often become highly adversarial and combative, often exposing young children to disputes between parents. Instead of going through the rigors of traditional litigation, a mediator — a trained neutral person — will walk you through the process of your dispute to help you reach a mutually satisfying outcome.

You Determine the Outcome of Your Divorce or Other Family Law Dispute

At Pladson Law Office, our attorneys, DeAnn Pladson and Kristen Hushka, look to help clients understand the values of mediation. In short, mediation is a process in which you and your spouse self-determine the future. Some of the primary benefits mediation offers include:

  • The ability to resolve some or nearly all of your divorce-related matters
  • The chance to stay in control rather than letting the courts decide for you
  • Keeping your affairs private
  • A chance to reach mutually beneficial solutions as opposed to "winning" and "losing"
  • Sparing your kids the trauma of going through contentious litigation
  • Getting creative with your solutions so the outcome works for you, your former spouse and your kids
  • Maintaining a better relationship with your former spouse
  • Saving time by working through matters quickly rather than waiting for the backlogged courts

Attorney Pladson is a trained mediator in both Minnesota and North Dakota and has a long history of mediating family law cases. Her goal is to promote outcomes for the family built on a foundation of communication, selflessness, and care for the entire family. From there, parenting plans are developed to promote the mutual goals and produce positive outcomes. We can help you identify the issues, sort through the options, consider alternatives, and arrive at settlements that will meet the needs of the family. Mediation can allow you and your spouse to maintain a good working relationship, which is so important for years to come and long after an amicable divorce agreement is reached.

In mediation, you have control over the process and over the outcome. You have the opportunity to gain clarity about your situation, to hear new information, and to make decisions for yourself as opposed to having decisions imposed upon you. As your representatives, we provide an open and transparent atmosphere for parties to talk freely and to be heard.

Discover How Mediation Could Be Your Best Option

Collaborative Law

What is Collaborative Law?

   “Collaborative law is a way to ‘trouble shoot and problem solve’ rather than to fight and win.” -Maury Beaulier  


Collaborative law is a dispute resolution process that allows for divorcing couples to work with lawyers and other professionals to settle their disputes out of court. A collaborative divorce focuses on open communication and negotiation. It is different from other types of dispute resolution like mediation or arbitration because there is no neutral third party between the couples. Instead, couples retain their own collaboratively trained attorneys to negotiate and problem solve in a positive and amicable way. The parties are asked to agree to act respectfully, transparently, and in good faith. If either party decides to pursue litigation, all attorneys and other professionals must withdraw.   Collaboratively trained attorneys are prepared to consider the best interests of the family, and determine the most efficient way to resolve disputes. They are also prepared to help clients maintain an open dialogue and communicate effectively. Other professionals like child specialists and financial advisors may be utilized in collaborative divorce. Although the goal of a collaborative divorce is to avoid litigation, the settlement is still a legal agreement. That being said, it is necessary to choose a collaboratively trained attorney.   Another important goal of collaborative divorce is to put children first. Instead of letting children fall into the middle of the divorce, they are put into the center of the discussion. Child specialists are often utilized in a collaborative divorce to ensure that children are a priority through advocation. By putting such a large emphasis on the children’s needs, there is less stress put on them and the family as a whole.     

Benefits of Collaborative Law

Avoid Court A major advantage of collaborative law is the ability to avoid court in favor of negotiations and settlements. Participants specifically agree to resolve the case outside of court.   

Less Time and Money Since negotiations and settlements require zero court time, cases are generally handled much faster. The timeline is usually set for what works best for the family rather than the timeline of the court. Because this timeline is generally much faster and more efficient, money and resources are saved.   

Maintain Privacy Another benefit of collaborative law is the amount of privacy. In court, certain negative allegations or personally private information can be available to the public. Choosing collaborative law means all negotiations take place in a private setting between the parties and professionals.   

Better for Children A lengthy or conflict-filled divorce can put a lot of pressure on children, causing unnecessary emotional hardship. Through collaborative law, parents agree to act amicably and communicate effectively. This can create an overall positive experience with less conflict when it comes to children.   

Less Stress When time and money is saved, privacy is maintained, and family life is preserved, couples generally have a more positive experience. This results in less stress on the entire family.