How Does Minnesota Divide Assets in a Divorce?
Sometimes, divorce must happen. Coming to the end of your marriage can be a painful process. Not only are their emotions to handle, but the assets you and your spouse have gathered over your marriage that must now be divided – including debt.
If a divorce is on the horizon for you – or you’re thinking of getting married and want to be proactive, just in case – then it’s important to understand how Minnesota divides assets in a divorce. It’s equally as important to understand what you can do to protect yourself should you ever need a divorce. Here’s what you need to know.
Property Division: The Process
In Minnesota, you can try to come to an agreement with your spouse to divide the debts and assets of the marriage. But if you cannot come to an agreement, then the court must intervene to help decide how it will happen.
In that case, you must provide a complete list of all marital property to the court, including any assets you share, as well as debts that have been accumulated over the course of the marriage by either of you. You do not have to include property that predates the marriage itself, and you also don’t have to include inheritance or gifts that were given to you individually during the marriage.
What Factors Influence Division of Property?
The court considers several factors when dividing assets if the two parties in the divorce cannot come to an agreement on their own. These factors include:
- How long the marriage lasted
- How each person contributed to the household, including child care
- If either party has been married before
- How each person contributed to the assets accumulated in the marriage
- The health of each party and their ages
- The employment status of each party as well as current and future income
In the courts of Minnesota, it is assumed that any property accrued over the course of the marriage is considered marital property unless either party can prove otherwise. So, real estate, investments, businesses, jewelry, and retirement accounts are all considered marital property by the court.
Once a list is made, value is assigned to the assets. A valuation date – either the day the couple separated or one that is chosen by the judge – is used to assign the market value of the property up until that date.
Once the valuation is done and the factors are considered by the judge, the property is then divided. This can be a lengthy process in which your interests must be properly represented, so it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
When you get married, you have to continue to look out for your own interests. And if you reach a point where you or your spouse are considering divorce, then it’s vital to take some steps to help protect your assets.
You can do this by making sure to monitor accounts to ensure money isn’t being moved around outside of your awareness or permission. You can also make sure to change your passwords to accounts frequently and keep them to yourself.
You should never attempt to hide money or transfer it from accounts. Don’t take money out of your retirement accounts, either. However, the biggest thing you can do to protect yourself is consult with an attorney to help determine the best course of action for you as you move through the divorce.
About the Author:
A former Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth and former staff attorney for the Indian Legal Assistance Program, Brent R. Olson is an experienced trial lawyer who has appeared in every Courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District and taken over three dozen cases to verdict. At LaCourse, Poole & Envall, Mr. Envall focuses on family law, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense. He has a strong belief in restorative justice and helped to develop the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles program.