One of the more common questions we face from a potential client involves title to property- whether a car, boat, house, ATV, business, bank account or otherwise. They ask, “My spouse says that because my [insert the property interest] is not titled in my name, I am not entitled to any of it. Is that true?”
One highly unique aspect of family practice is the fact that the litigants, unlike basically all other lawsuits, often continue to speak with one another (and even live together) during litigation. Sometimes that can be productive – if the parties are discussing issues in good faith. Other times, one spouse is simply trying to play games and get inside the head of the other. Our suggestion? Don’t get your legal advice from your soon-to-be ex.
Here’s the answer: Title to property is essentially meaningless in divorce court. Minnesota law defines marital property as anything accumulated by the parties during their marriage. Marital property is subject to equal division. The timing of the purchase, not the title, dictates the ownership interest for purposes of a divorce.
Of course, the law recognizes non-marital property, which is not subject to division. Non-marital property has a very specific definition. For the sake of this post, understand that nowhere in the definition of non-marital property is the concept of “marital title” addressed. Unless a piece of property was brought into the marriage by one spouse or received as a gift to one spouse but not the other during the marriage, the property at issue will likely be divided equally among the parties.