Property division is a major component of a divorce and includes dividing all marital assets including bank accounts, the family home, retirement interests, jewelry and more. When considering a divorce, keep in mind that Minnesota law provides for an “equitable” distribution of property. While this often means splitting assets 50/50, a court may award one party more based on certain factors.
What factors go into an “equitable” distribution of property?
Courts may consider a number of factors when choosing how to divide up property.
- Nonmarital Property: if you had an asset before the marriage, or that was gifted specifically to you during the marriage, it is usually considered nonmarital property and a court will usually award this asset solely to you. For example, if you bought and paid off a car before the marriage, or you received an inheritance during the marriage these assets would likely be considered nonmarital.
- Maintenance: If one of the parties is seeking spousal maintenance, the other party can use some of their property to do a lump-sum buyout of spousal maintenance, instead of paying spousal maintenance on a monthly basis.
- Services as a Homemaker: If one spouse gave up their career to take care of the household or raise children during the marriage, a court may award that person more property or spousal maintenance.
- Waste and Dissipation: If one spouse wasted money, for example with excessive gambling, or squandered money, for example by spending significant money on a relationship with someone other than their spouse, the court may compensate by decreasing the property award of the person who spent wastefully or with dissipation.
- Duration of Marriage: courts usually review the length of marriage in deciding the division of property. If a couple has been married for many years the court may divide property differently than if a couple was only married for one year.
How will our property be split up?
How property is divided depends on the type of property. While it’s easy to split the money in a bank account in half, dividing assets becomes more complicated with items such as houses, gifts, and debts.
- Houses: parties in a divorce must decide whether one person is going to keep the house or if both parties want to keep the house. If the parties sell the house, they can then split up the house sale proceeds. If one party wants to buy the house they must “buy out” the other’s portion. Getting a home appraisal is very helpful when one party plans to keep the house.
- Gifts & Inheritances: If one party wants to claim a gift or inheritance should not be divided at divorce, they must prove the asset is nonmarital (should not be divided by the parties in divorce). If an individual used the gift or inheritance during the marriage, for example put the money towards a mortgage during the marriage, the individual may have to prove through “tracing” what belongs to them.
- Debts: Just as assets must be divided, debts must also be divided. A court may divide some debts in half between the parties, but may apportion some debts to the person benefiting from the debt. For example, if one party is keeping the family car, the court may assign the loan to the person keeping the car.
Hire a Law Firm with Financial Acumen
Make sure to work with an attorney to properly divide up your assets equitably during your divorce.
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 – Esther Raty
Student Attorney – Sophia Maietta
Student Attorney – Lottie James