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Gary Debele is a 1987 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and since 1991 has focused his practice on a uniquely broad and all encompassing conception of family law. Through his membership in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, he has built relationships with professionals in his areas of family law expertise across the United States and across the globe. In addition to managing his practice, Gary also serves as the Chair of the Family Law group.

His family law practice includes not only the usual areas of divorce, custody, and parentage, but also several specialized areas that many family law practitioners avoid. He has represented clients with large and complex closely held family businesses, often with accompanying sophisticated estate planning vehicles. He has been involved with divorces and custody disputes with interstate and international aspects. With particular expertise in the interplay of juvenile and family court, he is also experienced in juvenile court practice and can address child protection issues that might spill into anyone’s family court proceeding.

In addition to assisting with family and relationship breakdowns, he has a sophisticated family formation practice which has him working in all aspects of adoption—from the simplest stepparent adoption to complex interstate and international adoptions, and even contested adoptions and adoptions that are dissolving. Gary works with all aspects of assisted reproduction and surrogacy, drafting donor contracts for all varieties of genetic material, gestational carrier and traditional surrogate contracts; and works to establish parentage in all of those situations, whether within the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, across the country or internationally.

Gary assists clients with appeals at all levels of state and federal courts. He is also a certified mediator and member of the Collaborative Law Institute, assisting clients who wish to avoid litigation.

Gary is experienced with estate planning for small to moderate sized estate, guardianship provisions for children, and prenuptial, postnuptial, or cohabitation agreements. He also handles matters in tribal court including those associated with the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Contact & Links
  • 1400 Fifth Street Towers
    100 South Fifth Street
    Minneapolis, MN 55402
  • English
  • Saint Olaf College, B.A.
  • University of Minnesota, J.D.
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities, M.A.
Bar Admissions
  • Minnesota, 1987
  • Wisconsin, 2005
  • Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, Contested Adoption Committee Chair, Amicus Committee, Mediation Committee, International Practice Committee, Ethics Rules Committee - Fellow
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Board of Editors Member - Fellow
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Minnesota Chapter, Board of Managers, Legislation Committee, Amicus Committee - Member
  • American Bar Association, Family Law, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Sections - Member
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Editorial Board - Member
  • Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota - Member
  • Hennepin County Bar Association, Family Law, Probate and Estate Law Sections and Juvenile Law Committee - Member
  • International Academy of Family Lawyers, Assisted Reproduction Services Committee - Fellow
  • Minnesota American Indian Bar Association - Special Member
  • Minnesota State Bar Association, Children and the Law, Family Law, Elder Law, Probate and Trust Law Sections - Member
  • Minnesota State Court Administrator’s Advisory Committee on Child-Focused Parenting Time - Appointed Member
  • Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society, Preservation Committee Chairman - Board of Directors
  • Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) Stakeholder and Drafting Committee - Appointed Member
Court Admissions
  • United States District Court, District of Minnesota
  • United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • Supreme Court of the United States of America
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Tribal Court
  • Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Court
  • Lower Sioux Community Tribal Court
  • Upper Sioux Community Tribal Court

Messerli Kramer
Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

4 The Best Lawyers in America® awards

1 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America award

Best Law Firms Badge Full Firm Profile

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2019 - Family Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2011 - Family Law
Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® for:
  • Family Law, Minneapolis (2019)
  • Family Law, Minneapolis (2011)
Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for work in:
  • Family Law
Special Focus:
  • Adoption
  • Appellate
  • Assisted Reproduction
  • Child Custody
  • Collaborative Law
  • Divorce
  • Grandparents' Rights
  • Juvenile Matters
  • Prenuptial Agreements
    • Fellow, International Academy of Family Lawyers
    • Fellow and Charter Member, American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys
    • Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Chicago
    • Fellow, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys
    • Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
    • Recognized Lawyer, The Best Lawyers in America©
    • Family Law Lawyer of the Year in Minneapolis, Best Lawyers®
    • Top 100 Super Lawyer, Minnesota Law & Politics and Minnesota Super Lawyers®
    • Top 40 Minnesota Family Law and Appellate Attorney, Minnesota Super Lawyers®
    • Super Lawyer, Minnesota Law & Politics and Minnesota Super Lawyers®
    • Lawyer of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer
    • Professional Award Recipient, Hennepin County Bar Association Family Law Section
    • Top 10 Super Lawyer, Minnesota Law & Politics


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