In a divorce, one of the biggest tasks is dividing up all the stuff, or more formally, the marital estate you have accumulated over the course of your marriage. This can be physical objects like couches or cookware, or it can monetary objects like 401K accounts or even credit card debt. The division of the stuff that makes up the marital estate is often what makes the act of divorce so messy if there isn’t the presence of children involved.
While any possessions, debt, or money you accrued before the marriage is yours to keep, in Minnesota there are a few assets that can actually be excluded from the marital estate. This means that they will not be divided and thus will be labeled as non-marital assets that are completely one party’s to keep.
Under Minnesota Statutes Section 518.54, subdivision 5, non-marital assets can include:
- Premarital Assets – Again, any asset that was procured by either party or even bought together before marriage is not subject to any legal division. Items bought together while dating will be the sole responsibility of both parties to split amicably.
- Prenuptially Agreed Upon Exclusions – Like assets obtained before a marriage, if you specifically set guidelines for asset division and set mutually agreed upon exclusions, those will not be counted among the martial estate. However, the prenuptial agreement needs to be both valid and signed by both parties.
- Personal Injury Settlements – If one party of a marriage was hurt at work or in some other accident and received personal injury benefits or a settlement, those proceeds are generally not shared as part of the marital estate. Since only one party was injured, they are entitled to keep any of the money from personal injury cases to help cover their injury and any resulting disability.
- Inheritance – If one party inherited a large sum of money from a relative, that is typically not counted as part of the marital estate. However, if both parties spent it during their marriage, the non-inherited party isn’t responsible for paying it back, but the items purchased with it may be split.
- Gifts to One Party – Like inheritance, gifts are only the property of the one who received it. However, unlike inheritance, if the gift is addressed to both parties of a marriage, then it actually does become part of the marital estate.
Aside from some of the situations mentioned above, almost all assets of a marriage are considered part of the martial estate. However, some exceptions can be argued if you can prove what is called “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that if you can prove that it was procured by you and only you, using your own money that was not shared in a marriage, then it cannot be split. If you are seeking to prove an asset is shared or not shared, you will need receipts, titles, and any other official documents of proof that will support your claim. If you fail to provide the proper documentation, then the court will have no choice but to include it in the martial estate and subject it to legal division between both parties.
If you are going through a divorce in Minnesota, and it is not going as smoothly as you would have hoped, one of the best things you can do is to seek legal representation. There are a lot of small loopholes in divorce law, and one thing you don’t want to happen is for your ex-spouse to take advantage of them. If you need representation, contact Beckman Steen & Lungstrom, P.A. today. We are dedicated to representing good people who have grown apart.