Going through a divorce is a stressful event that can leave a person worried about what their future may hold. While it is not possible to predict the outcome of legal matters, many men and women find it helpful to work with trusted attorneys who can guide them through their family law questions and dilemmas. Throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area, family law attorneys support the unique and diverse needs of their divorcing clients.
One area of divorce law that can be particularly vexing to individuals is that of property division. During a divorce, the parties must assess the items that they jointly own and how they should separate those shared parcels between themselves. This post will touch on several key facts about property division that may help Minnesotans better understand the property division process that they may face if they choose to divorce.
1. Property can be separate or marital
Many married couples live by the adage, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.” Between partners, sharing items of property is common and often results in blurred lines of ownership. To this end, many of the items of real and personal property that married people acquire are considered items of marital property that they will have to divide up in the event that they divorce.
However, not all property owned by married persons is marital property. It is possible for a married person to own property separate and apart from their spouse. For example, a person who receives a gift that is not also given to their spouse, or who receives an inheritance that they do not comingle with their spouse, may consider that property their own. During a divorce, separate property is retained by its exclusive owner while marital property is subject to division.
2. Property divisions are equitable, not necessarily equal
In the United States there are two predominant theories of property division pursuant to divorce: community property and equitable division. Community property states divide marital property equally between the parties to a divorce. Equitable division states, however, look at how to fairly divide up shared property to ensure that each party leaves their marriage with an equitable share of that they jointly owned.
Minnesota is an equitable division state, and as such divorcing parties should know that their marital property will be divided based on equitable considerations. Factors that can influence the outcome of equitable division property settlements include the financial situations of the parties and custody of their children.
3. Property division can extend to debts
Individuals often value the important items of property that give them wealth and financial stability more than the debts and liabilities they incur. However, debts like mortgages, credit card balances, student loans, and others can all become marital debts when they are comingled between spouses. During a divorce, a Minnesota couple will have to settle their marital debts in addition to the division of their marital property.
This post briefly touches on several of the key facts that may be relevant to individuals who have property division questions. It should not be relied on as guidance. A local family law attorney may be a good resource for an individual with specific questions and concerns.