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How is property divided in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2021 | Divorce

Couples undergoing a divorce in Minnesota must deal with many issues, but the results of property division can impact a spouse’s financial future. Navigating the state’s family law on dividing property is important for assuring that there is a fair and reasonable divorce decree.

Marital property

All property spouses acquired during their marriage is marital property. This property includes:

  • Vehicles.
  • Personal property such as clothes, electronics, and other household items.
  • Stocks and money in checking, savings, and retirement accounts.
  • House or vacation homes or cabins.

Both spouses have equal right to martial property regardless of who purchased it or the name on the title. Property has to be divided fairly or equally.

Courts place a value on the property and try to allocate it, so each spouse receives about half of its total value. Courts may allocate different shares if a spouse has special needs or to make up for any spouse who misspent the couple’s income or misused or appropriated the property.

Homes and land must also be divided fairly. The court may order the sale of the property so each spouse can receive their share expeditiously. One spouse may receive the home. In return, the other spouse can obtain assets such as retirement accounts that equal the home’s equity.

A court may allow the custodial parent and their children to continue to live in the couple’s home until the children are 18 if a court determines that this is in the children’s best interest. At that time, the couple will sell the home and divide the sale proceeds.

Non-marital property

This property is owned by a spouse before marriage. It also includes a gift or inheritance conveyed to a spouse during marriage. Parts or a personal injury or workers’ compensation award can be non-marital property.

Courts usually award property to a spouse who can prove that it is their non-marital property. If there is an unfair hardship or in other limited circumstances, a court may allocate non-marital property to the non-owner spouse.

Couples or courts often divide household items without determining whether it is marital or non-marital property.


Courts also determine which spouse pays debt incurred in their marriage. Debt is any money that is owed to another person or company and typically includes, credit card debt, student loans, mortgages, vehicle loans and medical bills.

Debt must be divided equitably which is not the same as equally. When dividing debt, courts review which spouse made the debt, who benefitted from the debt, the spouses’ income, and their ability to pay the debt and whether the debt was made before or during the marriage or after the parties separated.

Courts look at the spouse’s assets. A spouse who is awarded the car, for example, will usually have to pay the car loan. The spouse who incurred student loan debt is usually responsible for paying it off.


Minnesota is a no-fault state. Courts cannot consider a spouse’s fault in the breakdown of their marriage when ruling on property division and other divorce issues.

Attorney can help you address property division issues and assure that your rights are protected. They may help assure that your rights are protected in negotiations and court proceedings.