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What happens to your assets during a divorce?

All married couples accumulate assets, or "marital property" over time. These assets include all property acquired by either the husband or wife, or both together, and consist of physical or financial holdings, such as real estate, pension plan benefits, vehicles, household goods and more.

One of the fundamental processes when a man and woman get a divorce is the division of assets. In a litigated divorce, the courts will seek to create a fair division of the marital assets between the two parties. Factors taken into account will include:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Age and health of the parties
  • Sources of income
  • Skills, employability and potential for future income

It may be worth noting that what Minnesota statutes refer to as "marital misconduct" will not factor in to the decisions of the court. In other words, do not expect more than your fair share of the assets even if your spouse was having an extra-marital affair or violated the marriage in some manner.

Defining a non-marital asset

There are some assets that are labeled by the courts as "non-marital." The most obvious examples of non-marital assets are those properties acquired by an individual prior to the marriage.

Other circumstances that would serve to categorize an asset as non-marital are:

  • Property was acquired from a third party as a either gift, bequest or inheritance to one but not to the other
  • Property was received in exchange for the increase in value of a non-marital asset (the increase in value itself is also protected)
  • Property was acquired by either spouse after the valuation date (the date on which the value of marital assets is determined)
  • Property is excluded in an prenuptial agreement or contract

All property is assumed to be marital unless it can be shown otherwise. In order to have the best chance of maintaining ownership of your non-marital property, it is important to have documentation to support its exclusion.

Are non-marital assets guaranteed to be safe?

Non-marital assets can still be divided; however, if the court deems the financial situation would cause unfair hardship to one party, up to half of non-marital assets may be awarded in such a case.

Entering into divorce proceedings without proper preparation can leave you vulnerable to an unfavorable outcome. Working with a knowledgeable lawyer who is experienced with family law in Minnesota, will give you the best chance at a fair and reasonable settlement. He or she will help to protect your rights and secure your future.

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