Rebecca Heltzer and Melissa Houghtaling recently opened their new law firm, Heltzer & Houghtaling. Heltzer’s niche is dissolution of same-sex relationships, general litigation, real estate, and other property disputes. Houghtaling primarily practices in family law, probate, and estate planning.
Heltzer says, “We’re not able to access the marriage statute, because they don’t give us gay marriage in Minnesota. There are a whole bunch of tools that a person could use, and I’m probably more familiar with those than a lot of people in town. Really, what it comes down to is real estate disputes—their biggest asset is usually the house.”
While ending a long-term relationship is always going to be a difficult time, Heltzer tries to facilitate the best possible outcome for her clients.
“When people get into their relationships, they respect and love each other,” Heltzer explains. “When you’re transitioning and you’re changing, it’s emotionally extremely difficult, and every circumstance is different. But try to be as positive as possible, and focus on the end—on what makes most sense economically—because you don’t want to spend too much money on me.”
Litigation can be expensive, depending on the complexity of a client’s circumstances, but Heltzer takes great care to make sure her clients are comfortable about their choices and the costs associated with them. Furthermore, even if a case sounds simple, a visit to a lawyer might be well worth the money for the peace of mind he or she is able to provide.
Many attorneys throughout the Twin Cities practice family law, and it is important that a lawyer’s personality be compatible with his or her clients. Therefore, Houghtaling would rather refer a client to a different attorney than have an ineffective attorney-client relationship.
However, Houghtaling notes, “One thing that I can offer people, particularly GLBT couples, is an understanding and sensitivity to people’s sexual orientation, and the different relationships that individuals can form in their lives, not only as an out lesbian attorney myself, but as someone who has a number of people in my family who are GLBT, and have experience in what it can feel like to go to someone for alternative-planning needs.”
Houghtaling’s most recent project is a book for Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, Estate Planning for Non-Traditional Families. She teaches family law at Inver Hills Community College.
Heltzer & Houghtaling
413 Wacouta St., Ste. 430, St. Paul