In many ways, the Court treats a divorce like the dissolution of a business partnership. The assets and liabilities are divided between the parties, joint accounts are apportioned and closed, and the parties go their separate ways. In Minnesota, the law requires a "just and equitable" division of the parties' marital property. While this does not necessarily mean that the division will be mathematically equal, courts generally do award each party one-half of the total assets and liabilities.
During the "discovery" phase of a divorce, the parties have the ability to inquire of their spouse regarding the value of all of the assets and debts in their name. When necessary, appraisers can be hired to determine the value of real estate, a closely-owned business, or any other assets in need of valuation. When all of the assets are disclosed and the value of the marital estate is made known, the parties are then in a position to negotiate a property settlement. If the parties cannot agree on a fair settlement, the case proceeds to a trial where a judge will order the final division.
Not all of a parties' assets are necessarily subject to division. Any "nonmarital" property owned by a party is awarded to that party free and clear from any claims by their spouse. Nonmarital property generally means any property the spouse owned prior to the marriage, or was acquired via inheritance or gift during the marriage. Any property acquired by a party during the marriage is presumed to be marital property. The party claiming a nonmarital interest in property therefore has the burden of proving that the property qualifies as their nonmarital property. Special rules apply to certain types of property that can have both nonmarital and marital components. It is also possible for property that was originally one spouse's nonmarital property to become marital property if it is commingled with marital property.
Please contact McGraw Law Firm for more information. 651.209.3200.
Beau D. McGraw, Attorney at Law