Uncertainty about the future is one factor that often causes stress for those who are preparing to divorce. Couples who have been together for years, sharing their assets and debts, may be especially concerned about how they will manage when the divorce is final and they are on their own. Financial struggle is common following a divorce, especially for those spouses who are uncertain about how to fight for their rights during asset division. Minnesota laws call for equitable distribution of assets and debts, but what does that mean?
Equitable distribution means dividing the assets and debts of a divorcing couple in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal. Courts consider many factors when determining how to divide marital property, such as the ages, incomes and financial responsibilities of each spouse, who will have custody of the children, and the personal contributions each partner made to the marriage. The goal is that one spouse should not be left struggling while the other is taking vacations and living comfortably.
Before taking steps to divide the property, it is often important to determine which property is marital and which may belong to a spouse separately. Each state has its own way of interpreting this, but generally, the courts consider anything the spouses obtain while they are married as belonging jointly to both partners. Assets such as inheritances or property owned prior to the marriage are usually off the table during asset division.
A fair and equitable asset division is not always clear cut. Each marriage and divorce may have its own unique factors that affect the way a settlement or court order may go. This is why it is always wise for divorcing spouses in Minnesota to obtain separate legal counsel as early as possible in the divorce process to improve the chances of obtaining a fair share of the marital assets.