Gary A. Debele

Top rated Family Law attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Messerli | Kramer
Gary A. Debele
Messerli | Kramer

Practice Areas: Family Law; view more

Licensed in Minnesota since: 1987

Education: University of Minnesota Law School

Selected to Super Lawyers: 1998, 2000 - 2024 Selected to Rising Stars: 1998

Messerli | Kramer

100 South 5th Street
Suite 1400
Minneapolis, MN 55402 Visit website

Details

Gary A. Debele is an attorney at the law firm Messerli | Kramer located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he is the department chair of the Family Law Practice Group.  He represents clients throughout the state of Minnesota.  He practices family law matters related to divorce, child custody, family formation (assisted reproduction and adoption), appeals, child protection and collaborative law.

Mr. Debele also represents clients in  divorces that involve  complex family business matters and estate planning matters. He works extensively on adoption matters, including those that are contested. In addition, he drafts all types of assisted reproduction contracts, including gestational carrier and egg, 
sperm, and embryo donation contracts.  He also represents parties in tribal courts in all areas of his practice.  

Admitted to practice in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Mr. Debele  also appears before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and several tribal courts in these states. He is  Rule 114 certified mediator in Minnesota, as well as a certified adoption mediator as authorized by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and a mediator on the roster of the Minnesota Court of Appeals Family Law Mediation project.

Graduating from St. Olaf College in 1984, Mr. Debele completed his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude with a major in history and minors in literature and political science. He went on to study law at the University of Minnesota Law School and earned his Juris Doctor. He pursued further studies at the University of Minnesota, where he received his master’s in American legal and constitutional history.

As a fellow in  the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, and the International Academy of Family Law Attorneys, Mr. Debele is able to facilitate connections with other attorneys across the country and the world.   

Rated AV Preeminent* through Martindale-Hubbell, Mr. Debele has won several honors in his name. He was acclaimed the Minnesota Monthly magazine’s Family Law Lawyer of the Year in Minnesota and received the Hennepin County Bar Association Family Law Section’s Professional Award. He was also added to the list of Recognized Lawyer by The Best Lawyers in America.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer-review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice areas

Family Law

Focus areas

Adoption, Alimony & Spousal Support, Child Support, Custody & Visitation, Dissolution, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Law, Marital Property, Mediation & Collaborative Law, Name Change, Paternity, Prenuptial Agreements, Same Sex Family Law

  • 100% Family Law

First Admitted: 1987, Minnesota

Professional Webpage: https://messerlikramer.com/professional/gary-a-debele/

Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Moderator, “Minnesota’s Family Law Appellate Mediation Program: Why Some Cases Settle and Others Don’t” – Advanced Family Law Series, Minnesota CLE, November 19, 2019
  • Presenter, “Hot Topics in Minnesota Parentage Law” – Advanced Family Law Series, Minnesota CLE, November 18, 2019
  • Presenter, “Advanced Contract Disputes and Resolution in Assisted Reproduction” – Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys Annual Meeting, September 23, 2019
  • Presenter, “Ethical Issues in Assisted Reproduction, Adoption, and Family Formation” – Hennepin County Bar Association, April 12, 2019
  • Presenter, “Family Law Update” – Washington County Bar Association, February 27, 2019
  • Course Chair & Moderator, “An Update on Spousal Maintenance and Antenuptial Agreement Litigation Trends Statewide” and “Understanding and Using ACES Evidence in Custody Cases” – 2018 Advanced Family Law Series, Minnesota CLE, November 16, 2018
  • Presenter, “An Overview of Assisted Reproduction for Family Law Attorneys: History, Terms and Concepts, Practice, and Ethics” – American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Annual Meeting, November 9, 2018
  • Co-Presenter, “Custody and Parenting Issues Affecting the LGBTQ+ Community in Minnesota: Legal Trends and Developments Post-Obergefell” – Fourth Judicial District Fall Bench Retreat, November 2, 2018
  • Presenter, “Brief Legal Update: Family Law” – Minnesota State Bar Association Convention, June 28, 2018
  • Presenter, “Ethics and Dealing with the Alleged Birth Father” – American Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys 2018 Annual Conference, April 30, 2018
  • Presenter, “Indian Child Welfare Act: Avoiding Litigation and Settlement with Tribes” – American Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys 2018 Annual Conference, April 29, 2018
  • Presenter, “Perspectives on the Indian Child Welfare Act: In the Aftermath of Baby Girl and Its Progeny” – 40th Annual Family Law Institute, Minnesota CLE, March 18, 2019
  • Main Plenary Speaker, “2018 Family Law Update” – 39th Annual Family Law Institute, Minnesota CLE, March 26, 2018
  • Presenter, “Contested Adoption Proceedings in Juvenile Court: A Review of the Statutes and Practical Pointers” – Hennepin County Bar Association, February 27, 2018
  • Facilitator, “Law & Literature: Legal Ethics & Elimination of Bias” – Hennepin County Bar Association, February 22, 2018
  • Co-Presenter, “What is the Standard of Care? How Various State Statutes And Professional Guidelines Address ARTS Ethics Issues — And Why You Should Care” – Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys Webinar, January 10, 2018
  • Co-Author, “Legal Issues Surrounding Embryos and Gametes: What Family Law Practitioners Need to Know” – Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 701, 2018
  • Presenter and Course Co-Chair, “Same-Sex Issues in Minnesota Family Law” – Advanced Family Law Series, Minnesota CLE, November 29, 2017
  • Presenter, “Domestic Adoption 101” – RESOLVE: 33rd Annual Exploring Paths of Hope/Infertility, Adoption, and Family Building Summit, November 18, 2017
  • Presenter, “Assisted Reproduction and Family Law” – Family Law Section of the Olmsted County Bar Association, October 10, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, “Modern Day Matchmaking in Assisted Reproduction: Ethics and Standards of Practice” – Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys Mid-Year Conference, September 17, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, “Avoiding A Mad Tea Party: Malpractice 101 for ARTS Attorneys” – Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys Mid-Year Conference, September 17, 2017
  • Presenter, “Inside Minnesota’s Child Protection System: What Works and What Doesn’t Work” – Minnesota CLE, May 30, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, “What is the ‘Standard of Care’ for Assisted Reproduction: the Ongoing Evolution of Professional Ethics and Liability and Why You Should (Really) Care” – American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Technology Attorneys Annual Conference, May 10, 2017
  • Presenter, “Surrogacy and the Indian Child Welfare Act: the Next 25 Years in Indian Law – Cutting-Edge Issues” – 2017 Indian Law Conference, May 5, 2017
  • Facilitator, “Law and Literature: Legal Ethics and Elimination of Bias” – Hennepin County Bar Association, April 6, 2017
  • Presenter, “How to Make the Transition from Associate to Partner/Owner in a Family Law Practice” – 38th Annual Family Law Institute, Minnesota CLE, March 22, 2017
  • Main Plenary Speaker, “2017 Family Law Update” – 38th Annual Family Law Institute, Minnesota CLE, March 21, 2017
  • Co-Author, “Shifting Ethical and Social Conundrums and ‘Stunningly Anachronistic’ Laws: What Lawyers in Adoption and Assisted Reproduction May Want to Consider” – Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 101, 2017
  • Course Chair and Co-Presenter, “Advanced Family Law Series: The Indian Child Welfare Act: New Guidelines and BIA Regulations and Federal Court Challenges to ICWA” – Minnesota CLE, December 1, 2016
  • Co-Presenter, “Family Law Series: Child Custody Deskbook – Adoption and ART Law: Creating Families by Traditional and Non-Traditional Means” – Minnesota CLE, November 30, 2016
  • Presenter, “Family Law Series: Child Custody Deskbook – Alternative Custody and Abuse Allegations in Custody Cases” – Minnesota CLE, November 22, 2016
  • Plenary Co-Presenter, “Ethics in Adoption and ARTS: Evaluating Decisions, What Duties Are Owed, and Whose Interests Are Served” – American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Technology Attorneys Mid-Year Conference, September 24, 2016
  • Presenter, “The Complete Lawyer Series: Adoption Law and ARTS Law” – Minnesota CLE, July 27, 2016
  • Facilitator, “Law and Literature: Legal Ethics and Elimination of Bias” – Hennepin County Bar Association, June 16, 2016
  • Presenter, “Adoption Law and ARTS Law” – The Complete Lawyer, May 11, 2016
  • Lecturer, “Legal Aspects of Third Party Reproduction: Issues Surrounding the Use and Handling of Cryopreserved Genetic Material and Other Topics” – Mayo Clinic: Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Didactics Program, May 11, 2016
  • Presenter, “Update on the Indian Child Welfare Act: Appellate Case Law in the States after Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl – Trends and Controversies” – Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, May 5, 2016
  • Presenter, “Out of the Freezer and Into the Divorce: What Family Law Attorneys Need to Know about Cryopreserved Genetic Material” – 37th Annual Family Law Institute, Minnesota CLE, March 29, 2016
  • Presenter, “The Creation, Storage, and Use of Genetic Materials in Assisted Reproduction: What Divorce Lawyers Needs to Know” – International Academy of Family Lawyers, USA and Canadian Chapters Annual Meeting, February 4, 2016
  • Presenter, “Family Law Series: Receiverships and Divorce” – Minnesota CLE, November 20, 2015
  • Course Chair and Presenter, “The Complete Family Lawyer: Answers to 101 Questions in 16 Areas of Family Law” – Minnesota CLE, November 18, 2015
  • Co-Presenter, “Unlocking the Secrets of Chambers Conferences” – Walling, Berg & Debele, P.A., October 13, 2015
  • Presenter, “Embryo Planning in the Context of Parentage, Divorce, and Death: Is an Ounce of Prevention Worth a Pound of Cure?” – American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Technology Attorneys, October 6, 2015
  • Course Chair & Presenter, “Minnesota’s New Family Laws” – Minnesota CLE, August 24, 2015
  • Presenter, “A Brief History of Minnesota’s Child Protection System” – Inside Minnesota’s Child Protection System: How New Reforms Will Better Protect Children, Minnesota CLE, August 10, 2015
  • Co-Presenter, “Complex Civil Jurisdiction Issues in Tribal Court: The Teague Factors and Beyond” – 2015 Indian Law Conference, May 15, 2015
  • Presenter, “Adoption Law (and ARTS)” – The Complete Lawyer: Answers to 101 Questions Asked by Your Clients, Family, and Friends, Minnesota CLE, May 6, 2015
  • Co-Presenter, “Juvenile Protection Law In Minnesota” – Minnesota CLE, April 20, 2015
  • Co-Presenter, ”Smoke Screen or Fire: Sexual Abuse Allegations in Family Court – Part II: Legal Issues and Judicial Involvement” – AFCC-MN Chapter, February 20, 2015
  • Presenter, “Representing Children in Juvenile, Probate, and Family Court” – Advising the Disadvantaged 2015, Minnesota CLE, February 4, 2015
  • Keynote Speaker, “How to Earn a Good Reputation as a New Lawyer” – The New Lawyer Experience, Minnesota CLE, January 29, 2015
  • Editor, The Complete Family Lawyer’s Quick Answer Book– Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, 2015
  • Author, “Third Party Custody” – The Complete Family Lawyer’s Quick Answer Book, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, 2015
  • Author, “Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Technology” – The Complete Family Lawyer’s Quick Answer Book, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, 2015
  • Reviewer, “Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family” – Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 491, 2015
  • Co-Author, “Ethical Issues in Assisted Reproduction: A Primer for Family Law Attorneys” – Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 289, 2015
  • Author, “Family Law Issues for Same-Sex Couples in the Aftermath of Minnesota’s Same-Sex Marriage Law: A Family Law Attorney’s Perspective” – William Mitchell Law Review 157, 2014
  • Reviewer, “Intimate Associations: the Law and Culture of American Families” – Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 257, 2014-2015
Honors/Awards:
  • Fellow, International Academy of Family Lawyers, 2013-Present
  • Fellow, Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, 2017-Present* (The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (“AAAA”) and its specialty division, the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (“AAARTA”) were unified in 2017 under one name: The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys.)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Chicago, 1998-Present
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
  • Recognized Lawyer, The Best Lawyers in America©, 2001-2019
  • Family Law Lawyer of the Year in Minneapolis, Best Lawyers®, 2019
  • Fellow and Charter Member, American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, 2009-2017* (The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (“AAAA”) and its specialty division, the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (“AAARTA”) were unified in 2017 under one name: The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys.)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, 1996-2017* (The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (“AAAA”) and its specialty division, the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (“AAARTA”) were unified in 2017 under one name: The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys.)
Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, Volunteer Attorney
  • Lafayette Club, Member
  • Masterworks Chorale of Augsburg College, Member
  • Wayzata Community Church (Congregational), Member
Educational Background:
  • University of Minnesota, M.A. in American Legal and Constitutional History - July 1991
  • St. Olaf College, B.A. in History with minors in Literature and Political Science, Magna Cum Laude - May 1984
Special Licenses/Certifications:
  • Certified Adoption Mediator, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys
  • Certified Mediator, Minnesota Court of Appeals Family Law Mediation Project
  • Qualified Neutral Under Rule 114, Family & Civil Mediator, Minnesota Supreme Court
Representative Clients:
  • Boland v. Murtha, 800 N.W.2d 179, Minn. App. 2011
  • In Re the Matter of A.M.P., 507 N.W.2d 616, Minn. App. 1993
  • Hubbard County Health and Human Services v. Zacher, 742 N.W.2d 223, Minn. App. 2007
  • Weiler v. Lutz, 512 N.W.2d 868, Minn. 1994
  • In Re the Adoption of C.H. and A.H., 554 N.W.2d 737, Minn. 1996
  • In the Matter of the Custody of N.A.K., 649 N.W.2d 166, Minn. 2002
  • Van Meveren v. Van Meveren, 603 N.W.2d 671, Minn. App. 1999
  • In the Matter of the Custody of S.E.G., A.L.W., and V.M.G., 521 N.W.2d 357, Minn. 1994
  • Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639, Minn. 1996
  • Rolf Rodgers v. Lisa Rodgers, 622 N.W. 2d 813, Minn. 2000
  • In Re the Custody of A.S.R., 539 N.W.2d 607, Minn. App. 1995
  • In Re the Welfare of D.L., 486 N.W.2d 375, Minn. 1992
  • In Re the Matter of S.T. and N.T., 512 N.W.2d 894, Minn. 1994
  • Matter of the Paternity of J.A.V., 547 N.W.2d 374, Minn. 1996
  • In Re the Petition of Louis and Carole Santoro for Visitation Pursuant to Minn. Stat. $257.022, 594 N.W.2d 174, Minn. 1999
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • State of Minnesota, 1987
  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, 1988
  • U.S. Supreme Court of America, 1993
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Tribal Court, 1997
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, 1999
  • Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Court, 1999
  • Lower Sioux Community Tribal Court, 1999
  • Upper Sioux Community Tribal Court, 1999
  • State of Wisconsin, 2005
  • American Bar Association, Family Law, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Sections, Member, 1987 - Present
  • Minnesota State Bar Association, Children and the Law, Family Law, Elder Law, Probate and Trust Law Sections, Member, 1987 to present
  • Hennepin County Bar Association, Family Law, Probate and Estate Law Sections and Juvenile Law Committee, Member
  • Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, Special Member, 2001 to present
  • Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys,  Fellow
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Fellow, member of Board of Editors of the Journal of the Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Minnesota Chapter, Board of Managers, Legislation Committee, Amicus Committee, Member, 1998 to present
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, member of Editorial Board,  Family Court Review, 2006 to present
  • Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota, Member, 2006 to present
  • International Academy of Family Lawyers, Assisted Reproduction Services Committee, Fellow, 2013 to present
  • Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society,  co-chair, Preservation Committee, Board of Directors, 2010 to 2016.
  • Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) Stakeholder and Drafting Committee, Appointed Member, 2018 to present
Industry Groups:
  • Academy Of Adoption And Assisted Reproduction Attorneys
  • American Academy Of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • International Academy Of Family Law Attorneys

These comments were made by fellow attorneys during the annual nomination process.

“I have known Gary since 1985 when he was a law clerk for Lou Reidenberg and me. He was smart then and has only gotten smarter since”

“Brightest family law attorney in town, hands down”

Office location for Gary A. Debele

100 South 5th Street
Suite 1400
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: 612-473-1240

Attorney resources for Gary A. Debele

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