For many, the difficult part of a divorce is severing the emotional connection to someone you once knew so intimately. However, there is no arguing that divorce is frustrating solely because two people that are not getting along have to divide up their stuff. One party may believe they deserve more while the other does not want to receive less. If you are starting asset division in a divorce, then you will most certainly have questions.
Will Assets Be Divided Equally?
Minnesota is counted among the majority of states that use equitable distribution instead of community property. Equitable distribution is a method used by the court to help divorcing couples divide up their property. However, make no mistake that assets will not be divided equally, but rather, fairly.
If We Agree On Property Division, Is Equitable Distribution Needed?
Say, for example, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse decide to sell your marital home, pay off the mortgage, and split the remainder of the cash from the house sale. If you do this, will the court intercede and make sure the division is equitable?
The answer is no. Equitable distribution is only used by the court if the couple cannot agree on how to split assets. Furthermore, if the couple can agree on some aspects of a division but not others, the court can step in on those disagreements while leaving the other parts of the division alone.
What Happens to Assets Gained Before a Marriage?
While often we can amass a large amount of assets during a marriage, but it is likely that both parties had accounts, property, or other assets before they were married. These assets will not be counted among the marital property. They will be classified as separate property and those are wholly your own. However, it should be noted that spouses that own a large amount of separate property may find that the courts will compensate for this by awarding a larger share of marital property to the spouse with the smaller portion of separate property.
If a Spouse is Cheating, Does it Affect Asset Distribution?
There are a lot of reasons for divorce – infidelity, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence – but unfortunately that does not have much effect on asset distribution. It may affect other aspects of a divorce, but not this one. However, if your spouse is hiding or transferring assets from the marital estate, then this can result in the other spouse being awarded more by the court as a punishment to the guilty party.
How is Property Valued by the Court?
This is a common question when divorcing couples sit down and think about it. Retirement and other accounts involving cold hard cash are pretty easy to divide up. However, how do the courts divide up pieces of property that cannot be split? In these cases, the assets will be priced at fair market value. This means that as divorce proceedings go on, these assets may be able to appreciate or depreciate in value which may affect that division. Often in many divorce cases, the assets that you cannot physically split will be priced and one party may buy another out, or both parties may agree to liquidate those assets and then split the cash.
Have More Questions?
Asset division is the most difficult part of getting a divorce from a legal standpoint. So it is likely that you will still have some more questions about how property and other assets are divided. If you need answers to those divorce questions, contact us today. Let Beckman Steen & Lungstrom help you prepare for your divorce so you don’t get left out in the cold.