During divorce, couples have to split their property and debt. Minnesota law is very clear that the court will step in and divide things in a “fair and equitable manner” unless the couple comes to their own agreement. In many cases, this division of property is simple; it’s a give-and-take situation. In others, however, things become much more complicated.

Property Division in Minnesota

In the state of Minnesota, marital and non-marital assets are two different things. Property gained during the marriage is considered a marital asset (although there are a few exceptions). The same can be said for debt. Debt that is incurred during a marriage is considered marital debt.

Non-marital assets and debt include any property that was brought into the marriage. A good rule of thumb is that if you had it prior to your marriage, you generally won’t have to divide it (or count it during property division) during your divorce.

Inheritances and gifts that are intended for only one half of the couple won’t be counted as marital property either. The final exception is property acquired during the marriage but that was exchanged for non-marital property, such as selling a collectible that is non-marital property to acquire another.

“Equitable” Division

To determine a fair, equal division of marital property, it’s usually best to use a balance sheet. Listing all of the marital property and marital debt, along with dollar values, and subtracting the debt from the assets will give you a clear picture of the net marital estate. Dividing that number in half will give you a target number; then, it’s up to you to ensure that both of you are receiving your fair share.

In many cases, a cash payment, a redistribution of retirement interest, or another purely financial transaction can even things out and ensure equal division.

When Couples Disagree on Property Division

Sometimes it’s necessary for an outside party to step in and help clear the air, such as when a couple cannot agree on (or cannot determine) how much something is worth. Jointly owned businesses, interest on pensions, and even home values can be points of contention between divorcing couples. In cases like these, many couples rely on appraisers to determine the value of the assets in question.

The courts can also step in and ensure that division is fair when one party frivolously (or purposely) spends all of the couple’s money in order to avoid sharing it.

Let’s Talk about Property Division

You don’t have to face this issue alone – you deserve to have a knowledgeable, caring and committed divorce lawyer who understands Minnesota law in your corner. Call us at (763) 783-5146 to schedule a confidential case consultation.