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Avoid these property division mistakes in a divorce

In a Minnesota divorce, the biggest thing that couples fight over - besides children - is the family home. While many spouses are happy to get rid of the family home because of so many bad memories, it has sentimental value for some people. Perhaps there are children involved and one parent thinks staying in the home will reduce their stress. For another spouse, the reason may be that it is his or her first major purchase and he or she is not so willing to give it up. Whatever the reason, with real estate law so technical, it's best to make sure the property division is done properly.

The most common mistakes involved in splitting real estate in a divorce are not including the home in the summons and petition and not using the correct legal description in the decree. These errors will require amendments, which will delay the divorce process. Also, any discussions the spouses have regarding the home need to be recorded in the divorce decree. Verbal agreements cannot be enforced.

It's also important to understand the marital and non-marital parts of the home. This is especially true if one spouse acquired the home before marriage. Another common mistake is a spouse not taking his or her name off the title of the home when the other spouse gets the home. A divorce does not remove a spouse's name from a title; this must be done by the lender. This often means that the spouse who receives the home must refinance in his or her name only. Until then, both spouses are on the hook for mortgage payments.

The legal documents involved in a home can be tricky to navigate. Spouses should not sign anything without consulting with a lawyer. They could lose out on thousands of dollars or even their right to remain in the home.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Top 7 Mistakes with Real Estate in Divorce," accessed Nov. 22, 2014

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