Minnesota Divorce Topic - Equitably Dividing Assets and Debts

Minnesota Divorce Topic - Equitably Dividing Assets and Debts

Financial issues are often a sticking point during divorce.  Not only can valuing and dividing assets become a point of contention, but allocating debt can also be a major concern.  In Minnesota Divorce cases, the division of Assets and Debts does not need to be mathematically equal, and you are not entitled to “exactly half .”  Minnesota Statute 518.58, subd. 1, states that the District Court is required to make a “just and equitable” division of assets (the same rule applies to the division of marital debts).  See also Lynch v. Lynch, 411 N.W.2d (Minn. Ct. App. 1987).  At Lake Harriet Law Office, we effectively advocate for our clients using financial precision and analysis, coupled with a CPA level balance sheet in every case.       

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 (although this is a common default position in long-term marriages).  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). 

The Benefits of a Proper Balance Sheet

In each divorce case, we prepare a balance sheet that identifies all assets and debts (including any potential non-marital 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.  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.  This depends on the specific financial circumstances and facts of the case.      

The Benefits of Participating in 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.  The FENE process typically begins 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 impasse.  As with the FENE process, mediation is also confidential so that the parties feel comfortable discussing all settlement 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 – Aubry Fritsch

Student Attorney – Taylor Blatchford

Student Attorney – Katie Arndt