Dividing property can be one of the most contentious aspects of a Minnesota divorce. It can also be one of the most complicated. While most of the property you and your spouse own is considered "marital property" that must be divided during a divorce, not all property falls into this category.
"Marital property" is property acquired by the parties during the marriage. Both spouses have ownership in marital property. "Non-marital property," on the other hand, is property owned by only one spouse. Non-marital property includes:
- Property acquired before or after the marriage
- Gifts or inheritances made by a third party to only one spouse
- Property that is excluded by an antenuptial contract (a prenuptial agreement / premarital agreement)
- Property exchanged for other non-marital property, or an increase in the value of non-marital property
Can Courts Divide Non-Marital Property?
Courts generally cannot divide non-marital property in a Minnesota divorce. However, if one spouse's resources are so inadequate that failure to divide non-marital property would create an unfair hardship, the court can divide up to one-half of the non-marital property in order to prevent the unfair hardship.
Furthermore, there are some assets that have both marital and non-marital elements, such as property that one spouse brought into the marriage but that increased in value due to the efforts made by the other spouse. In those instances, spouses (or the court) must identify which portion of the assets are marital or non-marital property and divide the property accordingly.
If the non-marital property is divisible, the court will divide it based on a concept called "equitable distribution." This may not be a 50/50 split. Instead, a court will look at multiple factors when dividing property, such as the length of the marriage, the age and occupation of each spouse, the income and assets of each spouse, and the contribution of each spouse to the marriage (contribution as a homemaker, financial contribution, etc.). The court will then determine what it believes to be a fair division of property.
Source: 2011 Minnesota Statutes, section 518.58, "Division of Marital Property."