When you’re married, you may not worry too much about who really owns the sports car or whether or not the furniture set is really yours because you bought it before you met your spouse. However, once a divorce is in process, property division becomes a very important topic. If you don’t have children, it will likely be the focus of the proceedings. Ways of determining who owns what when a couple splits varies depending on state law. Minnesota is considered a common law property state. So, what exactly does that mean for your assets?
The common law property rule is fairly straightforward. Even if the couple is married, if one party – for example, the husband – buys a motorcycle and puts it in his name only, then the motorcycle belongs solely to him. But if the couple purchases a family car together and put both names on the title, then the car belongs to both and it would be considered marital property.
If the couple divorces, each person keeps his or her own property. Joint property obtained during the marriage is divided according to how the court sees fit. The couple may also negotiate and reach a settlement outside of court. If the couple had a prenuptial agreement in place, assets covered in that agreement are split according to the document.
Asset division can be contentious when a couple decides to split. Each state has its own laws and while all aim for fairness, an equal 50/50 split is not always possible. Those going through a divorce should consider consulting with a family law attorney to understand their property rights and ensure that assets are split fairly.
Source: FindLaw, “Who Owns What in Marital Property?,” accessed April 25, 2015