What Is Marital Property?
When two people get married, they don't think of their shared possessions as "marital property;" it only becomes a factor when they get divorced. In legal terms, marital property refers to all personal property (including real estate and other holdings that can be valued) obtained in the course of the marriage and thus subject to division. In contrast, "personal property" (or "separate property") is that which was acquired before the marriage, received as a personal gift, inherited from a relative, and awarded by a court.
Property that was acquired during the marriage but with personal property (i.e. a car bought with inherited money) is considered personal property as well. Personal property may become marital property in some instances, such as when a business started before marriage is sustained by the marriage -- this is called "commingled property."
Along with marital property, courts also recognize marital debt. In fact, debts are treated much in the same way assets are in that they may be either marital debt, personal debt, or even commingled debt.
Minnesota Marital Property Laws at a Glance
Minnesota is not a "community property" state, in which all marital property is divided directly in half. Instead, Minnesota (as most other states) adheres to the concept of equitable distribution. This is a more comprehensive and nuanced method, in which the judge decides what is equitable (or fair) for both parties. This system considers factors such as the financial standing of each spouse and their sources of income, how long the marriage lasted, and whether children are involved (including who has custody).
|Relevant Code Section||518.58 Division of Marital Property|
|Community Property Recognized?||No|
|Dower And Curtesy||Provides for actions based on dower and curtesy or interest in lieu of same (§519.101)|
|Sale or Distribution of Marital Property While Legal Proceeding is Pending
If the court finds that it is necessary to preserve the marital assets of the parties, the court may order the sale of the homestead of the parties or the sale of other marital assets, as the individual circumstances may require, during the pendency of a proceeding for a dissolution of marriage or an annulment. If the court orders a sale, it may further provide for the disposition of the funds received from the sale during the pendency of the proceeding.
The court may order a partial distribution of marital assets during the pendency of a proceeding for a dissolution of marriage or an annulment for good cause shown or upon the request of both parties, provided that the court shall fully protect the interests of the other party.
Note: State laws are constantly changing through the enactment of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts, and other means. FindLaw makes every effort to update state law pages as soon as the law changes, but you may also want to contact a Minnesota family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Divorce and the separation of marital property are difficult both from a legal standpoint and because the processes tend to involve raw nerves and heightened emotions. You'll probably want help from an attorney, especially if your spouse is represented. Get help today with a free evaluation of your divorce situation from a Minnesota divorce attorney.
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