When divorcing in Minnesota, all property owned by the husband or wife is presumed to be marital property. The law requires judges to make “a just and equitable division” of property. This means that your china set that has been passed down through generations will almost certainly stay in the family. Of course, it’s not usually the china set that parties argue about; it’s the big-ticket items like the house, real property, business ownership, retirement, and any significant debts, that are the most common sources of property division disagreement in a divorce.
One of the biggest mistakes clients make is assuming that when parties separate, is that their property separates at that time too and that they are no longer responsible for their spouse’s spending. Minnesota law dictates that marital property is valued as of the day of the “initial case management conference” with the court, even if the time between separation and this date of valuation is years. The status quo of spending and saving that has been established by the parties should continue during any period of separation. If it is clear that either party is ‘divorce planning’—meaning disposing of or spending assets in anticipation of divorce—this will be factored into a final settlement or court order because dividing what’s left of the marital estate at that point is not equitable. If you are thinking of divorce, call our office and speak with a family law attorney who can adequately advise you.