The choices made when dividing property in a divorce can last a lifetime. Clients cannot afford to let anger, grief and sadness rule ahead of strategy and financial planning because that person’s financial future hinges on smart decisions.
First, it is vital to identify what property the parties have and what it is worth. This can take some sleuthing by looking at tax returns, business records, credit card statements and bank records. Sometimes a couple needs to consult with an accountant or realtor to understand what property is worth. What the property was purchased for is not necessarily what it is worth today. Minnesota law requires the couple be fair and honest with one another.
Second, knowing how Minnesota law looks at property is critical. State law requires a fair and equitable division of property obtained during the marriage no matter whose name is on a title, account or debt. There are times when Minnesota law keeps certain property out of a divorce, such as an inheritance or a gift.
Third, one should understand what makes a property division fair and equitable. Those factors include who has a great need for a certain item of property, what the couple does for a living and each person’s skills, what will each spouse likely earn in the future and who helped contribute to obtaining the property. This can take time and patience to track down the information necessary to figure out an equitable division of items.
Fourth, a couple should consider alternative dispute resolution, such as an Early Neutral Evaluation (“ENE”) or mediation, to help negotiate a fair division of property. Using alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), often allows for a neutral approach to financial negotiations. ADR is used frequently because it helps a case move along quicker and more efficiently instead of going to court and letting a judge decide how to divide the property.
If you are concerned about how Minnesota law applies to your divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney Jessica L. Sterle at (218) 722-2655 to schedule a consultation.