Most couples in Minnesota, with the exception of those who already have airtight prenuptial agreements in place, have to think about property division matters as they prepare for divorce proceedings.
From the day that you got married, you and your spouse will have started building a marital estate. The income you both earned, the property you bought with those funds and the debts that you assumed during the marriage will all be treated as part of your marital estate unless an exception applies to specific assets. The two of you have to find a way to fairly divide those assets or else a judge will be called upon to decide how your marital property will be distributed.
Some property interests are relatively easy to address. You may have no interest in your spouse’s wardrobe or in the furniture that they picked out for your shared home. Other property could be more of a challenge because of the perceived financial or emotional value that such assets carry. These are some of the asset types that are particularly sensitive in nature and could lead to contentious litigation during Minnesota divorce proceedings.
1. Your marital home
The house where you have lived together for years may be the only home your children have ever known, and it could also represent the vast majority of your marital resources. Spouses often disagree about who should keep possession of the home and even how much the property is worth.
2. Your retirement savings
The money that you have set aside may be the only financial support you’ll have to cover your cost-of-living expenses when you retire other than Social Security benefits. Some people feel quite strongly about retirement savings or pension benefits because they began funding an account years ago and never gave their spouse access to it.
However, in Minnesota, most contributions made during the marriage, even if the retirement account only belongs to one spouse on paper, will likely be subject to division. Even if you don’t divide the actual retirement account, you will have to factor in its value when dividing other property.
3. Household pets
You probably think of your dog, cat or beautiful macaw parrot as a member of your family. However, Minnesota family courts will not treat an animal as a dependent family member but rather as a possession. Divorcing spouses often arrange their own shared pet custody arrangements, but they generally cannot litigate such matters in Minnesota family court. Judge dividing your assets will simply allocate the pets to one spouse or the other.
If you identify and proactively address the assets that could lead to disputes between you and your spouse, it will be easier for you to achieve your goals and avoid unnecessary conflict in your divorce. Setting clear goals and learning more about the law can help those preparing for a Minnesota divorce filing, especially if they wish to avoid an unnecessarily contentious process.