Divorce challenges those caught in the middle in surprising and unpredictable ways. Whether your husband blindsided you by revealing that he had been having an affair with someone at work, or you and your spouse separated after less than a year, after realizing that the relationship had no enduring foundation, you likely have a lot of concerns and questions.

For instance, how can you separate your finances in a way that leads to a fair outcome and a minimum of fighting and litigation?

Here are some tips and strategies for dividing property effectively:

Best Practices to Help Your Case

•    Understand how Minnesota categorizes assets. If you brought separate property into the marriage or earned or received it when the marriage ended, that property belongs to you. Examples include gifts, inheritances, wages and retirement benefits. However, if you acquire property during the marriage, the state might view it as a marital asset even if it’s held in your own name.

•    Determine the location and worth of all your property. Especially if the other spouse generally handled the household finances or separated from you under unusual circumstances, dig deep to identify exactly what the two of you have. Figuring out what these assets are worth can also be challenging. It’s easy to see the cash position on an account. However, you may need the help of a forensic accountant to evaluate jewelry, collectibles, antique furniture, and so forth.

•    Consider possible alternatives to traditional methods of resolving your differences, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). If you and your ex can negotiate property distribution through ADR, you can save substantial costs on litigation.

Worst Practices that Can Hurt Your Case

•    Rush the process. If you rush through the divorce, you might end the marriage sooner and move on with your life. However, you could sacrifice property in the process, if you are not willing to be patient and resolve your differences. Plus, rushing the negotiations could accidentally trigger litigation, which costs more and takes more time.

•    Demand your own way. Divorce, at least in part, is an art of compromise. Identify what property you want to preserve and what you might be willing to give away during negotiations; doing so will empower you and help you win compromises from the other side.

•    Minimize your contributions. If you are the stay-at-home parent who quit working, you might feel that you did not contribute anything financial to the marriage. However, the court views your contribution as significant, and it will assign a financial value to your efforts.