Dividing property is a stressful process as you plan your divorce. Some couples fight so intensely about property division that they end up asking a judge to intervene and make those decisions because they cannot agree on anything.
In Minnesota, couples should fairly or equitably divide their property and debts. There are some belongings and debts that may remain the separate property or responsibility of one spouse.
Understanding what may be your separate property or your spouse’s separate property can help you plan in the early stages of the divorce process. What is separate property under Minnesota law?
What you owned before marriage and kept separate
The property you owned before you got married is your separate property. Your vehicle, the first 10 years of contributions to your retirement account and most of your furnishings may be your separate property that you already owned before you got married.
Typically, you can preserve those belongings as your separate property when you divorce, especially if you took great care to maintain those assets separately from your marital property.
What you inherit or receive as gifts
If your parent or grandparent left you a significant portion of their estate or if you annually receive a monetary gift from a family member strategically reducing their estate, those assets should remain your separate property.
Inherited property and gifts received by one spouse aren’t typically subject to division unless there has been significant commingling or the other spouse contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of the separate property.
Property protected in a marital agreement
If you and your ex signed a prenuptial agreement during your engagement or negotiated a postnuptial agreement during a rough patch in your marriage several years ago, you may have set aside specific property as the separate property of either spouse. The assets protected in marital agreement may not be subject to division in a divorce. The same rule may also apply to debts one spouse agrees to assume in a marital agreement.
Debts that one spouse hid
While people often focus on sharing assets, you also have to split your debts. The date when someone acquired the debt usually determines if it is marital or separate property. However, if your spouse misled you about your household circumstances or actively hid those debts from you, you may be able to exclude them from the property division proceedings in your divorce.
Learning the rules that influence property division when you go to court can help those thinking about a possible Minnesota divorce.