Minnesota provides for only “no-fault” divorces, which means that no one technically takes the blame for the break up of the marriage. Instead, the state bases divorces on irreconcilable differences between the spouses. However, the state does consider “fault” when looking at property division.
Equitable Property Division
Personal or separate property refers to any assets obtained prior to the union, inheritances, gifts and awards by a court. Marital property includes all assets, such as earnings, furniture, collections, retirement monies and real estate, accumulated over the course of the marriage. During the marriage, you can earn your own income and handle your own property if it’s in your own name alone. However, the rules change during a divorce. Instead, the courts fairly divide property in what’s termed “equitable property division.” However, the property might not be split 50-50.
The judge looks at various factors before making a decision on equitable property division. For instance:
- The length of the marriage;
- The state of each person’s finances and sources of income;
- Whether one partner quit a lucrative career to stay home and raise children;
- Whether either spouse has health issues or other dependents who need care (such as an elderly parent);
- The nature of the custody arrangement.
Complications to Property Division and Commingled Property
Complications can arise when a person obtains something during the union but uses separate property for the purchase, such as a vehicle that he or she bought using inheritance funds brought into the marriage. Alternatively, the husband or wife might have started a business prior to the marriage, but then both parties contributed to the business after the marriage. The courts label these types of assets “commingled property.” Homes, vehicles and other large assets might also fall under this category. For instance, one person might have provided funds for the down payment of a more expensive item, but the other spouse contributed to the mortgage or helped to pay monthly payments on an asset.
Marital debt works in a similar fashion. The court also regards debt as marital, personal or commingled; and it will assign responsibility for repayment using equitable measures.
You can limit your exposure to these complications if you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Such an agreement can particularly helpful if you have significant wealth; if your own a business; or if you need to provide for children from a previous marriage.
The Minnesota divorce lawyers with the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. are standing by to provide compassionate, strategic assistance with your divorce related legal needs. Call us for a consultation at (763) 783-5146.