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Attorneys and Legal Support

The attorneys listed below have experience and training working with child protection cases and/or family law matters in Minnesota and are available for hire. Before contacting an attorney, we suggest reviewing the information provided in their profile, reading the attorney’s bio on their webpage, and reviewing the “Choosing an Attorney” guide to help determine whether an attorney is a good fit for your case and your family. Additionally, to make the most of an initial consultation, consider writing down the main points about your legal issue and any questions you have to help you and the attorney determine if they are a good fit for your case.

Note: For pro-bono (free) legal services, see the pro-bono/legal aid resource list.


Mallory Stoll
Blahnik Prchal & Stoll
4617 Colorado St. SE
Prior Lake MN, 55372
(952) 447-4424
info@bpslawoffice.com

Learn more about Mallory: https://www.bpslawoffice.com/mallory



Rhia Bornmann Spears
Spears Family Law, PLLC
212 3rd Ave North, Suite 371
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 599-7860
rhia@rhialawyer.com

Learn more about Rhia: https://rhialawyer.com/attorney-profiles/

Additional information:

Service Area: Mostly metro area but may be able to travel up to several hours outside of the metro depending on the circumstances.

Languages Spoken: English

Areas of Practice & Specialization:

  • Motions for intervention in child protection matter
  • Contested adoptions / Motions for adoptive placement
  • Transfer of permanent legal and physical custody (TPLPC)
  • Home study and licensing challenges/violations/appeals in child protection matter
  • Appeal of a juvenile court order in a child protection matter
  • Third Party custody
  • Emergency custody
  • Guardianship
  • Mediation

Licensed to practice in the following tribal courts:

  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Prairie Island Indian Community

Cost & Fee Structure:

  • Offers free initial consultation by phone
  • Provides unbundled/limited scope services
  • Offers a sliding fee scale


Jody O. DeSmidt
DeSmidt Rabuse PLLC
900 IDS Center
80 South 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 335-4284
j.desmidt@innovativefamilylaw.com

Learn more about Jody: https://www.innovativefamilylaw.com/jody-ollyver-desmidt

Additional information:

Service Location: I primarily practice in the Twin Cities Metro and surrounding counties. However, I represent clients across the entire State of Minnesota. I do bill for my time traveling.

Languages Spoken: English

Areas of Practice & Specialization:

  • Motions for intervention in child protection matter
  • Contested adoptions / Motions for adoptive placement
  • Transfer of permanent legal and physical custody (TPLPC)
  • Home study and licensing challenges/violations/appeals in child protection matter
  • Appeal of a juvenile court order in a child protection matter
  • Cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies
  • Third Party custody
  • Emergency custody
  • Adoption

Licensed to practice in the following tribal courts: N/A

Cost & Fee Structure:

  • Offers a free 1-hour initial consultation by phone, video conference call, or in person
  • Some cases are billed on a flat fee basis which vary depending on the circumstances. Others are billed hourly with an initial retainer due up front which also varies.
  • Provides unbundled/limited scope services
  • No sliding fee scale


Jennifer Thompson
JLT Law & Mediation
P.O. Box 237
Litchfield, MN 55355
(320) 535-5078
jennifer@jltlawoffice.com

Learn more about Jennifer: https://www.jltlawoffice.com/child-protection-lawyer/

Additional information:

Service Location: All 87 Minnesota counties virtually and in person as needed; I charge mileage at the federal rate and $50 per hour.

Languages Spoken: English, some Spanish

Areas of Practice & Specialization:

  • Motions for intervention in child protection matter
  • Contested adoptions / Motions for adoptive placement
  • Transfer of permanent legal and physical custody (TPLPC)
  • Appeal of a juvenile court order in a child protection matter
  • Cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies
  • Third Party custody
  • Emergency custody
  • Guardianship
  • Adoption
  • Step-parent adoption

Licensed to practice in the following tribal courts: N/A

Cost & Fee Structure:

  • Offers free 15-minute initial consultation by phone or video conference call
  • Provides unbundled/limited scope services
  • Offers a sliding fee scale
  • Up-front retainer required for cases at the district court level and flat fees for appeals
  • More information about fees and payments: https://www.jltlawoffice.com/fees-and-payments/


Gary A. Deeble
Messerli Kramer, PA
1400 Fifth Street Towers
100 South Fifth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 672-3667
gdebele@messerlikramer.com

Learn more about Gary: https://messerlikramer.com/professional/gary-a-debele/

Additional information:

Service Location: I represent clients across the state of Minnesota and in multiple tribal courts. I typically charge my hourly rate for travel time.

Languages Spoken: English

Areas of Practice & Specialization:

  • Motions for intervention in child protection matter
  • Contested adoptions / Motions for adoptive placement
  • Transfer of permanent legal and physical custody (TPLPC)
  • Home study and licensing challenges/violations/appeals in child protection matter
  • Appeal of a juvenile court order in a child protection matter
  • Cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies
  • Third Party custody
  • Emergency custody
  • Guardianship
  • Adoption
  • Mediation: I represent clients in mediation and am also a certified mediator

Licensed to practice in the following tribal courts:

  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Prairie Island Indian Community
  • Red Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • Upper Sioux Community
  • White Earth Nation

Cost & Fee Structure:

  • Offers free 15-minute initial consultation by phone or video conference call
  • Provides unbundled/limited scope services
  • No sliding fee scale

I have been practicing in the area of family law, and specifically third party custody and visitation, for more than thirty years.   I have been involved in representing grandparents and other relatives in matters involving custody and visitation, including drafting settlement documents, litigation, as well as teaching and legislative activity.   My approach is that of a problem solver first, and litigator second.   I have experience in situations involving complex and often intractable mental health and chemical dependency issues  — often the issues that are at the root of the family dynamic where my services are needed.   If a creative settlement cannot be negotiated, then I proceed with litigation, always being sensitive to the family dynamics involved and trying to reach a resolution that will work for the family over the long term.   These cases can be difficult, but the outcome is usually critical for the children involved and the overall ongoing functioning of the larger family unit.



Marian Saksena
DeWalt Chawla Saksena
330 2nd Avenue South, Suite 760
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 361-6180
info@dcsfamilylaw.com

For 23+ years, I have devoted my law practice to child protection and/or family law matters.  As part of that, I have had the privilege of working on behalf of relatives and kin in foster care cases, contested adoptions, third-party custody cases, grandparent visitation matters and other types of cases. I received my law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1998, where I also studied social work and received a certificate in child abuse prevention studies. I have been designated a Minnesota Super Lawyer and included in the Minnesota Super Lawyers’ Top 100 list.

Learn more about Marian: https://www.dcsfamilylaw.com/marian-saksena

Additional information:

Service Location: I practice primarily in the metro area, but also other counties within Minnesota and in several tribal courts. If travel is required, my normal hourly rate applies.

Languages Spoken: English

Areas of Practice & Specialization:

  • Motions for intervention in juvenile protection matter
  • Contested adoptions / Motions for adoptive placement
  • Transfer of permanent legal and physical custody (TPLPC)
  • Home study and licensing challenges/violations/appeals in child protection matter
  • Appeal of a juvenile court order in a child protection matter
  • Cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies
  • Tribal Court
  • Party status and/or visitation motions in child protection cases
  • Third Party custody
  • Emergency custody
  • Adoption
  • Visitation/contact agreements
  • Grandparent visitation

Licensed to practice in the following tribal courts:

  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • White Earth Nation

Cost & Fee Structure:

  • No-obligation, 60-minute initial consultation for $150
  • Provides unbundled/limited scope services on a case-by-case basis
  • No sliding fee scale


Rebecca Kaus
Kaus Law, LLC
PO Box 23
Farmington, MN 55024
(651) 808-0314
Rebecca.kaus@kauslaw.com

Learn more about Rebecca: https://kauslaw.com/about-us/

Additional information:

Service Location: I practice primarily in the Twin Cities metro and surrounding counties. I’m able to travel outside of the metro and charge half-rate for drive-time.

Languages Spoken: English

Areas of Practice & Specialization:

  • Third Party custody
  • Emergency custody
  • Family Law cases were the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies

Licensed to practice in the following tribal courts: N/A

Cost & Fee Structure:

  • Offers free initial consultation by phone or video conference call
  • Provides unbundled/limited scope services
  • Offers a sliding fee scale


Samantha Gemberling
Wolf Rohr Gemberling and Allen
400 North Robert Suite 1860
Saint Paul, MN 55101
(651) 222-6341
sgemberling@wolfrohr.com

Learn more about Samantha: https://www.mnfamilylaw.com/about/our-attorneys/samantha-j-gemberling/

Additional information:

Service Location: I primarily practice in the 7-county metro area but have worked on some matters in St. Louis County. Travel costs are billed at our normal hourly rate.

Languages Spoken: English

Areas of Practice & Specialization:

  • Motions for intervention in child protection matter
  • Contested adoptions / Motions for adoptive placement
  • Transfer of permanent legal and physical custody (TPLPC)
  • Home study and licensing challenges/violations/appeals in child protection matter
  • Appeal of a juvenile court order in a child protection matter
  • Cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies
  • Third Party custody
  • Emergency custody
  • Mediation

Licensed to practice in the following tribal courts: N/A

Cost & Fee Structure:

  • Takes a retainer up front (usually $5000 depending on the case) and bill against that retainer.
  • No unbundled services or sliding fee scale.

The resources below may be useful to any relative/kin caregiver but may be especially useful to you if you are representing yourself in court pro se (without the assistance of legal counsel).

Kinship Navigator Tool
This tool offers free, unlimited access to general information and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions for relatives and kinship caregivers.

Know Your Rights Webinar 
View a recorded presentation for relative and kin families who are interested in being a permanency resource for a child in foster care. The webinar explores: the rights of kin, important legal considerations and timeframes at different stages of a child protection case, when to hire an attorney, what to expect if relative/kin end up seeking representation, and ways to figure out if an attorney is competent in these types of cases.

Also check out MN Adopt’s “Know Your Rights: Kinship” podcast episode with Natalie Netzel, Professor of Law, Education and Advocacy Director at the Institute to Transform Child Protection.

LawHelpMN
LawHelpMN has useful self-help resources regarding a variety of legal issues and can also help you find legal services and resources available in your area in Minnesota. Below are some links to commonly used resources:

  • Third-Party Custody – If you are seeking custody of a child and you are not their biological parent.
  • Delegation of Parental Authority (DOPA)A temporary document that gives someone else permission to take care of your children when you cannot. A DOPA can be revoked at any time.
  • Grandparents and Visitation – If you are a grandparent seeking to ask a court to let you visit your grandchildren.
  • Guardianship and Conservatorship – If you are seeking to become someone’s guardian due to an impairment or their inability to make safe personal decisions or meet their daily personal needs.
  • Special Education Services – Information for parents of a child with a disability and how to ensure your child gets the most out of special education services.
  • Child Protection FAQ Answers general questions about Child Protection including what to do if a Child Protection worker contacts you.  

MN Courts Self Help Center 
The Minnesota Judicial Branch provides legal information about a variety of topics for anyone who intends to represent themselves in court. You can find a Help Topics page, legal forms, information on Self-Help Center locations and clinics, and other resources.

Office of Ombudsperson for Families
The Ombudsperson for Families office assists families with complaints and grievances families may have against county and state agencies. If you believe a county agency is not respecting your rights or mistreating you, there are steps you can take to try to resolve your concerns. Find additional information about general steps you can take to resolve your concerns here: Understanding the Child Welfare Grievance Process
Phone: (651) 539-1257 | Toll-free: (888) 234-4939)
Email: obff.info@state.mn.us

Office of the Ombudsperson for American Indian Families 
The Minnesota Office of Ombudsperson for American Indian Families is a new as of 2021 and operates independently, but in collaboration with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, which serves the American Indian Communities. The Ombudsperson works to resolve complaints from families who have been negatively impacted by child welfare social service agencies, to include out-of-home placement of American Indian children, as well as public education and housing issues as they relate to child protections cases. Learn more by visiting their website: https://mn.gov/oaif/.
Phone: (651) 643-2523
Email: Jill.Esch@state.mn.us

Pro bono legal services are services provided by a volunteer attorney at no cost to the client. Income limits may apply to be eligible for some pro bono representation and legal aid services.

Volunteer Lawyers Network
Phone: (612) 752-667https://www.vlnmn.org/7 | Monday – Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Online Intake: https://www.vlnmn.org/intake
The Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) provides free legal assistance to low-income people in Minnesota with a variety of legal issues. Depending on the specific issues and facts of your case, VLN may provide free legal advice, brief services, or full representation. You will need to contact VLN’s intake line to see if they have a volunteer attorney who is able to help you. VLN also offers legal clinics virtually and throughout the community. Learn more here: https://www.vlnmn.org/clinics

ICWA Law Center
1730 Clifton Place, Suite 104
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Phone: (612) 879-9165
Email: info@icwlc.org
The ICWA Law Center provides legal services and advocacy to Indian families impacted by the child protection system.

Mitchell Hamline School of Law Child Protection Student Representation Clinic
Law students in the Child Protection Clinic represent parents, and occasionally, relatives and kin in child protections proceedings under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The clinic’s ability to take a case depends on student capacity and availability of a licensed supervising attorney.
Phone intake: (651) 695-7672
Email: childprotection@mitchellhamline.edu

No Cost Relative & Kin Legal Clinics
The Mitchell Hamline Child Protection Clinic and Ampersand Families co-host a regular Relative & Kin Legal Clinic where relatives and kin can receive brief legal advice from a student attorney on their legal issue and receive additional resources related to relatives and kin. Registration and additional information can be found on Ampersand Families’ website: https://ampersandfamilies.org/what-we-do/relative-kin-families-know-your-rights/

Legal Aid Organizations
Legal aid organizations provide legal advice, brief services, and full representation to low-income individuals and families in Minnesota on a variety of legal issues. Income limits apply to be eligible for services. Note: Some legal aid organizations are unable to provide legal services in an open CHIPS (Child In Need of Protection and Services) case. However, do not assume a legal aid organization cannot help you with your legal issue simply because child protection may be involved. You can call the legal aid office, explain your situation, and they will be able to tell you if they can assist you or not.

Anishinaabe Legal Services (ALS)
Service Area: In or near Leech Lake, Red Lake, or White Earth Reservations
Phone: (800) 422-1335
*ALS does offer representation to people involved in a Child In Need of Protection and Services/Child Protection case in Tribal Courts.

Central MN Legal Services (CMLS) 
Central MN Legal Services has three different offices and service locations:

    • Minneapolis Office Service Area: Hennepin and Anoka
      Minneapolis Office Phone: (612) 334-5970
    • Cloud Office Service Area: Benton, Chisago, Isanti, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, and Wright counties
      St. Cloud Office Phone: (320) 253-0121
    • Willmar Office Service Area: Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Swift, Renville, and Yellow Medicine counties
      Willmar Office Phone: (320) 253-9600

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA)
Service Area: MMLA serves 20 central Minnesota counties for low-income individuals, 26 counties for seniors 60+, and statewide for disability and tax-related cases.
Phone: (612) 334-5970 | 1 (800) 292-4150

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS)
Service Area: Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Cottonwood, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, McLeod, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pipestone, Ramsey, Redwood, Rice, Rock, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, and Winona counties
Phone: 1 (877) 696-6529

Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota (LSNM)
Service Area: LSNM has three different offices and service locations but all three offices serve the following locations: Becker, Beltrami, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Roseau, Stevens, Traverse, Wadena and Wilkin counties.
Phone: 1 (800) 450-8585

Legal Services of Northeastern Minnesota (LASNEM)
Service Area: Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Pine, and St. Louis counties.
Phone: 1 (800) 933-1112

Legal Assistance of Dakota County
Legal Assistance of Dakota County provides free civil legal services to Dakota county residents with family law and consumer law issues. Income limits apply.
Service Area: Dakota County
Phone: (952) 431-3200

Judicare of Anoka County 
Judicare provides legal advice or assistance on a variety of non-criminal legal issues.
Service Area: Anoka County
Phone: (763) 783-4970

Disclaimer
The use of the information on this site is strictly up to the discretion of the user.  MN ADOPT is not responsible for the contents of any outside sites through any external links provided; nor are the links an endorsement of the external site as to quality, accuracy or completeness.

Families should carefully choose an attorney based on the individual needs of their family. For more information, please see the “Choosing an Attorney” guide.

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