A couple can acquire a lot of things––from a marital home to investments to bank accounts––while married in Minnesota. When they decide to divorce, all of that must be divided. It can become a pretty heated part of a divorce, especially when the assets (and debts) are extensive.
At Heritage Law Office, our divorce lawyer in Minnesota understands what you are going through and takes steps to make the process as smooth as possible. We will help you divide the property in accordance with the law. We will also help identify any assets that the other partner may have tried to hide or negotiate property that is particularly contentious. Contact us through our online form or call us at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation.
What is the Equitable Division of Marital Property in Minnesota?
The term “Division of Marital Property” refers to the process of deciding who gets what possessions when a married couple divorces. Different states have different ways of viewing how marital property should be divided. There are two schools of thought. Communal property is one way where states that adhere to that doctrine divide marital property evenly––a 50/50 split.
Equitable distribution, on the other hand, is an approach that does not necessarily stick to the 50/50 rule when deciding who gets what. Instead, the court tries to find a solution that is fair to both parties, in other words: equitable. At times, this may mean taking into consideration property that is owned separately by just one spouse when deciding the best way to divvy up belongings.
It is important to know which of these property rules your state recognizes.
What Is Included as Marital Property in Minnesota?
Marital property is property that has been accumulated by the couple during the life of their marriage. Items that may be considered as marital property include:
- Motor Vehicles
- Furniture and household items
- Retirement accounts
- Bank accounts
- Financial assets
If one spouse owns property separate from the other, that may not be considered marital property. An example would be an inheritance (in most states).
Debt is another matter which must be considered when couples divorce. In most communal states, debt incurred after the couple is married but before the couple separates is considered to be the debt of both parties, even if it is only in the name of one.
In most equitable states, incurred debt during the life of the marriage is the responsibility of both parties. Each spouse, however, may also have debt that is separate and belongs only to them.
What Are Common Challenges to the Equitable Division of Property?
Spouses in both equitable property and communal property states can challenge the court's division of property. Two common reasons for challenges are:
- Hiding Assets. One spouse may claim that the other is hiding assets that should be included as marital property and used to determine each party's fair share. One way this may be done is by asking that certain bonuses or work promotions not occur until after the divorce is final.
- Classification of Debt/Assets. It is not uncommon for one party to claim that the court is incorrectly classifying debt or assets as marital or separate property.
The courts hold that it is important both parties were transparent in what they own for a premarital agreement to be upheld.
How Does a Divorce Lawyer Help in the Equitable Division of Property in Minnesota?
A family law attorney can be very helpful when determining the equitable division of property. First of all, they tend to know how to negotiate and determine what is equitable. Sometimes, that could be a 60/40 split and other times, it could be a 50/50 split. Further, there are circumstances that could be leveraged to gain a better portion of the marital property. For example, if a spouse had an affair and wasted marital property on that affair, your attorney can successfully argue that your portion of the property reflects a reimbursement of that waste.
A divorce lawyer will also know how to look for your soon-to-be ex's hidden assets. Ultimately, they can help you negotiate so that you receive the settlement you are owed under the law.
Contact a Family Law Attorney in Minnesota Today
At Heritage Law Office, our divorce lawyer in Minnesota wants our clients going through a divorce to make informed decisions. We will be honest and straightforward about your options and persistent in making sure your rights and interests are upheld. Contact us today through our online form or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is Equitable Division in Divorce?
Equitable division is the fair but not necessarily equal distribution of marital assets and debts during a divorce. While some states follow community property rules, where all marital property is split 50/50, states like Minnesota utilize the equitable division model, which takes multiple factors into account to ensure fairness.
2. How is "Marital Property" Defined in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, marital property is typically any asset or debt acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name it is under. This can include homes, vehicles, bank accounts, and even debts. However, gifts or inheritances specifically given to one spouse may be considered separate property and not subject to division.
3. Can a Spouse Hide Assets in an Equitable Division State?
While it's legally prohibited, it's possible for a spouse to attempt to hide assets during divorce proceedings. Courts require full financial disclosure, and there are penalties for spouses caught hiding assets. Discovery tools, like interrogatories and depositions, are used in divorce cases to bring transparency to each party's financial situation.
4. How is Debt Divided in a Divorce in Minnesota?
In an equitable division state like Minnesota, debt is also fairly divided between the spouses. However, the judge considers several factors such as the party responsible for incurring the debt and each spouse's ability to pay it off. Debt may be assigned individually or jointly, depending on these and other considerations.
5. Do Prenuptial Agreements Affect Equitable Division?
Yes, a prenuptial agreement can have a significant impact on how property is divided in a divorce. A valid prenuptial agreement in Minnesota can specify which assets and debts are marital and which are separate, potentially overriding the equitable division model. However, both parties must have fully disclosed their assets and liabilities for the agreement to be upheld in court.