Dividing property, assets and debts in divorce

A major element of dissolving a marriage is to sever financial ties between divorcing spouses with regard to shared property, assets and debts. Aside from child custody issues, matters related to the division of property and assets are among the most important and potentially divisive that must be negotiated and settled.

States differ in how they approach the division of marital property in divorce. For example, Minnesota is considered an equitable distribution state. This means that a divorce judge determines how assets and debts will be divided between divorcing spouses based upon what he or she believes to be fair. Therefore, a judge will review and take a number of factors into consideration when deciding how to provide for each spouse's financial wellbeing post-divorce.

In cases where a couple has a prenuptial agreement that is deemed fair and valid by the court; assets, debts and property will be divided according to the prenup's terms. In cases where a divorcing couple does not have a prenuptial agreement, the court will work to determine those assets and debts that are considered to be shared or marital property and which are considered to be separate property.

When making determinations with regard to the division of marital assets, property and debts; a Minnesota judge will review how long a couple was married, how much each spouse makes and the earning potential of each spouse. Additionally, for divorcing parents, a judge will consider an existing child custody arrangement and applicable financial responsibilities associated with child-rearing.

Decisions related to the division of marital property are complex and the outcome of these decisions has a tremendous impact on an individual's life post-divorce. It's critical, therefore, to ensure that one's best interests are being represented.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Divorce Property Division FAQ," 2014

FindLaw.com, "Minnesota Marital Property Laws," 2014

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