In Minnesota, a court must make a just and equitable division of marital assets (including debt) without regard to marital misconduct during a divorce. In other words, how a party conducts him/herself during a marriage will not typically impact his/her share of the marital property.
The Court typically starts with the presumption that each party should be awarded an equal 50% of the marital estate. However, it is important to keep in mind that the law calls for a “just and equitable division of the marital property.” This might mean an equal division; it might not. In some cases, a perfectly equal division of property would not be appropriate.
In order to determine what is just and equitable in the division of marital assets, the court will look at the length of the marriage, the number of prior marriages (if any), whether a spouse acted as the homemaker during the marriage, the contribution of each spouse to the marital estate, and the skills, needs and future opportunities of one of the parties.
The Court will also usually require the assets be appraised before dividing the property unless the parties can agree on valuation. This will help ensure that each spouse gets an equitable share. This could include stock trades, selling assets, and splitting money or making agreements to ensure both parties receive their fair and equitable share.
It is important to remember that marital debt is also divided in a just and equitable manner by the court. The specific spouse who incurred more debt will not be automatically responsible for more debt. For example, if your spouse accumulated a significant amount of credit card debt during your marriage, the court starts with the presumption that it is marital debt.
Once a division of marital assets is ordered by the Court, it is final. The Court does not have the authority to re-open a property division unless some very specific elements are proven (e.g. fraud).
Dividing marital properties and debts in a divorce can be challenging without an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer to help ensure that what you receive is fair and equitable. If you face a contentious divorce and are concerned about the division of marital assets, please, contact our office today at (651) 647-0087 or on the web at firstname.lastname@example.org.