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Minnesota's laws on property division in a divorce

Those divorcing under the laws of the state of Minnesota should be aware that the state is not a community property state. Instead divorcing spouses split their assets according to the doctrine of equitable distribution.

Rather than halving the marital assets directly, this nuanced concepts allows for a broader interpretation by the courts. Factor that a judge might consider include:

-- The length of the marriage

-- Each spouse's financial status

-- The revenue stream(s) of both parties

-- The presence of any minor children, and which parent has custody

The scope of the marital property encompasses all that the spouses acquired together during their marriage and is distinct from any separate property such as an inheritance, gift, monetary award from a court or anything already owned that was brought into the marriage.

However, there are ways that separate property can become marital property, and one of those is by commingling. This could occur if an inheritance is deposited into a joint savings or investment account, or if a business that belonged to one spouse prior to marriage is subsequently sustained by both parties during the marriage.

Marital debt is treated similarly to marital assets, so if one partner has a high debt load, it is possible that the other spouse could be responsible for repaying a portion of it should they divorce.

Spouses contemplating divorce who have complex assets they wish to protect in a future settlement should seek the counsel of both a financial advisor as well as a family law attorney to ensure that their interests and those of any children they have are protected in the divorce.

Source: FindLaw, "Minnesota Marital Property Laws," accessed Nov. 25, 2015

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