One of the first questions people ask when talking about divorce is what will happen to their property. Spouses share ownership of everything from vehicles to houses, so there can be a lot of uncertainty about what will happen with those shared assets.
Some couples have marital agreements that provide clear instructions about property division. Many others will negotiate a settlement so that they can file an uncontested divorce. Some people will litigate property division.
If you intend to litigate or want to try to negotiate a settlement outside of court, you should have an understanding of the Minnesota approach to property division.
Minnesota is one of the many equitable distribution states
In Minnesota, the law calls for an equitable division of your assets. Is that a 50-50 split? No, there is no reason to expect a 50-50 division of your property because equitable does not mean even. Although people think that equitable sounds like equal, that is not what equitable division is. It is a fair solution to the division of your property and debts.
What is fair can be vastly different depending on your family’s circumstances. A stay-at-home spouse who has a disabling medical condition will need much more support than someone whose earning potential is equivalent to their spouse’s. Someone with a large pool of separate property will have an easier time rebuilding than someone without their own assets.
The longer the marriage has lasted and the more sacrifices either spouse has made for the marital relationship, the more likely it is that the courts will split property in an uneven manner to account for those unique circumstances. Judges often need to use household debts or specific assets to make the division of other property fair. Given how much is left to the discretion of the judge, it can be nearly impossible to predict the outcome of equitable distribution proceedings.
You don’t have to go to court
When you understand what rules a judge will apply to the division of your property, it becomes much easier to negotiate a reasonable settlement with your spouse. You and your ex can potentially agree to specific terms. You can also ask a judge to apply state law to your property.
Learning more about Minnesota’s divorce laws will help you know what to expect at the end of your marriage.