How Splitting Assets in a Minnesota Divorce Works

If you’ve decided to get a divorce in the state of Minnesota, then you know there are a lot of things to work out.

It’s vital to know what your rights are in a divorce, which is why you have an experienced divorce attorney to help guide you through the process. It’s also good to understand for yourself what your rights are when it comes to assets in a divorce.

Here is an overview of Minnesota marital property laws and a few of the most common mistakes made by those seeking a divorce as they work to split their assets.

What Is Marital Property?

In Minnesota, assets in a divorce are divided into two categories: marital and non-marital property. Any asset that you and your spouse acquired after marriage and before the date of valuation is considered a marital asset.

That means that even after you decide to divorce, any property acquired by either party is presumed to belong to both of you and can be a part of the divorce settlement.

Non-marital property is the property that was acquired before the marriage or after the date of valuation, or after the dissolution of the marriage.

Some things acquired during the marriage can be considered non-marital if, for example, it was a gift or inheritance from one spouse by a third party or it was excluded in a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement.

Any property considered non-marital isn’t subject to division during the divorce proceedings by the court. Note, however, if there is an asset that you want to claim is a non-martial asset in the divorce, then it is up to you to prove in court. You need to establish why you view it as such.

Is There Community Property in Minnesota?

Community property is when all marital property is divided right down the middle so that each spouse gets half of the assets.

Some states are community property states and some are not – Minnesota is not. Instead, in a Minnesota divorce court, you can expect your divorce to follow the model of equitable distribution.

In this method, the judge decides what is fair or equitable to both parties and they consider other factors over the course of the marriage.

Some of the most common considerations include each spouse’s financial standing, source of income, how long the marriage lasted, and whether or not children are involved – and who has custody of them.

What Are Divorce Settlements?

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It is possible for those couples who are divorcing to reach settlements out of court and divide assets that way. It’s actually recommended to settle your divorce out of court if you can so that the couple who is splitting up can have more control of the outcome.

Once it goes to court, it is the judge’s ruling that stands – and the judge doesn’t know as much about your situation as the two of you do.

Common Mistakes During Divorce

You want the best outcome for yourself when getting a divorce, especially if you have a lot of assets that you obtained over the course of the marriage. There are three most common mistakes, and we’ve outlined them below.

Not Understanding Your Financial Situation

Some people are in the dark about their financial situations. This is especially true if one spouse handles all the finances and made all the financial decisions in the relationship. This can leave you with little to no information about the standing of your assets and give your soon-to-be-ex a leg up when it comes to financial issues in the divorce settlement.

Make sure to watch your joint accounts if you’re going through a divorce. If your spouse moves assets without your permission, then your attorney can investigate it.

You Don’t Contemplate Mediation

As suggested earlier, working together with your spouse to reach a fair settlement is the best option for everyone involved when it comes to marital assets as well as other issues in the divorce such as custody of children or alimony. By choosing mediation, you can potentially save thousands of dollars and reduce the emotional anguish of a divorce.

Mediation also allows for flexibility so that you can make decisions that are best for you and your family. It’s okay if your situation is complicated and mediation doesn’t work, but it’s something worth considering.

Getting Emotional About Assets in the Divorce

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It can be tough to let go of things you worked hard for over the course of your marriage such as your house, your retirement accounts, or even something as simple as a piece of art you purchased on vacation.

Don’t let your love or emotional connection to things in your life sabotage your divorce, though. So often we see emotions become the root cause of poor choices in 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.