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Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers and Property Division

by | Sep 30, 2019 | Divorce, Firm News

Almost without exception, property division is the simplest component of a marriage dissolution in Wright County, or it is the most complex portion of the proceeding.

If the couple was married only briefly, there may not be very many assets and debts to divide. Most property is probably nonmarital. These divisions are also usually straightforward if the couple had a prenuptial agreement. These pacts classify and divide property in advance, thus avoiding costly and time-consuming litigation.

Litigation avoidance is one reason more people are getting prenuptial agreements. There are other reasons as well, but they are the subject of another blog.

In other cases, property division is extremely complex. Assume Louis and Marie buy a new car after several years of marriage. Marie drives for Uber and she places her earnings in a separate account. Louis finds out, hits the roof, and files for divorce. The Uber money could be Marie’s nonmarital property or marital property subject to division. Likewise, the remaining car payments could be Marie’s separate obligation or a joint debt.

Intricate issues like these are especially difficult for Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers to unravel because the division also presents some emotional issues (i.e. this is my side hustle).

Classifying Property in a Wright County Divorce

The Uber dispute is an example of commingled property. Over time, the distinctions between yours, mine, and ours become blurred.

This example also includes a transmutation problem. Louis and Marie bought the car after the marriage, so it was clearly a marital debt at the time. But since Marie used the car in her side business, she may be responsible for future car payments. That’s especially true if, as is probably the case, she primarily drove the car at all times.

Classification could be a financial issue as well. Many times, Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers partner with forensic accountants and other professionals who trace spending and receipts to determine ownership. If you think this process sounds time-consuming and expensive, you are right. However, it is also a necessary part of a divorce. Unless property is classified properly, it is impossible to divide it equitably, and that is the next step.

Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers and Marital Property Division

Minnesota is an equitable division state. Note that “equitable” is not necessarily synonymous with “equal.” The Wright County judge must divide property in such a way that it represents a just and right division of the marital estate and the divorce is not an unfair financial burden on either party. Some factors to consider include:

  • Length of the Marriage: The relationship’s length is basically a multiplier or a divider. The longer the marriage lasted, the more pronounced the following factors become. Conversely, shorter marriages diminish these factors, especially the noneconomic contributions to a marriage.
  • Any Prior Marriages: Previous property divisions, and previous property awards, could affect current property distributions. That’s especially true with regard to home equity amounts and retirement accounts.
  • Relative Age, Health, and Occupational History: In many respects, Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers must divide property so each spouse can live basically the same lifestyle. Young and healthy people with strong job backgrounds can usually earn more money than people who do not have these traits.
  • Economic Contributions to the Marriage: These contributions are usually easy to ascertain, especially with the help of a financial professional.
  • Noneconomic Contributions: This factor may be the property division wild card. If one spouse gave up a lucrative career to be a caregiver, this factor may be substantial, especially if the couple had young children. In other cases, however, the so-called “homemaker factor” may be negligible or even nonexistent.

Wright County family law judges usually approve any agreements between the parties, as long as the agreement is roughly in line with the aforementioned factors.

Property division, unlike alimony or child support, is usually a one-time matter. Once the court divides property, it is almost impossible to reconsider the division. This fact is especially important with regard to revenue-producing property. If Marie’s side hustle is marital property, Louis is entitled to a proportionate share of not only past income, but also any future income. So, it is important for a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer to be very thorough and get things right the first time.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

Complex property division matters often involve both financial and emotional considerations. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.