Dividing Assets and Debts During a Divorce

Dividing Assets and Debts During a Divorce

Financial concerns are often a sticking point when two people are going through a divorce.  Not only can splitting assets become a point of contention in some cases, but resolving debt issues is also a major concern.  Determining who will be responsible to pay off which debts can be frustrating and a cause impasse during financial negotiations.  At Lake Harriet Law Office, we help our clients with their financial concerns during a divorce, including resolving issues surrounding accumulated debt (both secured and unsecured).   

When it comes to the division of assets and debt, Minnesota law dictates that division be equitable for both parties. This does not mean debts and assets are split fifty-fifty.  Minnesota law does not support a complete denial of marital property to one party.  See Zeimer v. Zeimer, 386, N.W.2d 348 (Minn. Ct. App. 1986).  See also Olness v. Olness, 364 N.W.2d 912, 914 (Minn. Ct. App. 1985).  We prepare a balance sheet that identifies all assets and debts, including any nonmarital claims, and we propose an equitable division of each. It may be 55% to one spouse and 45% to the other spouse.  We are not required to divide equally, and Minnesota statutes and case law use many factors when determining how to make the division of assets and debt. For example, if there is a lump sum buyout of spousal maintenance, the division may be 65% to one spouse and 35% to the other spouse (depending on the balance sheet).     

Benefits of FENE

To help shorten the process of legal battles over assets and debts, the Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) process can be used as an effective resolution tool. This process involves using a neutral lawyer or CPA to resolve the financial aspects of a divorce. This is usually started within 30 to 45 days of the first court appearance.  The FENE process is voluntary, and cannot be ordered by the Court unless both parties agree to participate. The role of the FENE provider is to give an evaluative opinion of the case based on the issues and facts presented during the FENE session. Some providers have views regarding spousal maintenance that may differ from your lawyer, and this should be considered when choosing a provider.      

Mediation to Resolve Impasse

Mediation is another option to help the parties address the division of debts and assets during a divorce. The mediation process is also voluntary.  A mediator does not make decisions for the parties, but rather helps the parties to have productive dialogue in areas where they may have an impasse. As with the FENE process, mediation is also confidential so that the parties feel comfortable discussing all options.       

At Lake Harriet Law Office, we provide strong legal representation for our clients who are going through divorce, and we use a data-focused approach to address the division of assets and debts.  If you are concerned about divorce and the related financial issues, please contact us to schedule a consultation at 612-750-4843.

Managing Attorney – Randall A. Smith

Student Attorney – Jessica Dulz

Student Attorney – Chinyere Okwulehie

Student Attorney – Addy Scriver

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