An In-Depth Look at Marital Estates During a Divorce

Many couples that have chosen to pursue divorce expect a simple process that won’t take much time. Unfortunately, when it comes to the division of marital estates, a divorce can quickly turn into a messy situation. Couples are encouraged to become familiar with the different types of marital property and how property is divided from state to state. Identifying whether your divorce will be considered a high asset case is also beneficial, so you’re prepared for whatever situation comes your way. Additionally, the assigned judge will also determine whether spousal maintenance is necessary. Divorce can be tricky and time-consuming, but hiring an experienced family law attorney will prepare you for success.

The Difference Between Marital and Non-Marital Property Division

Divorce is already stressful and emotional for both spouses, and property division can make it much more difficult. Whether the divorce is mutual or is one spouse’s choice, it’s incredibly important for each party to familiarize themselves with the different property division types and residing state guidelines.

Marital Property

When a married couple decides to divorce, any property, debts, and assets are categorized as marital property unless determined otherwise. The state of Minnesota follows equitable distribution, which is the fair distribution of all marital property that best benefits each spouse. These guidelines don’t always mean each spouse will receive the same amount of property, however. In some instances, one spouse may receive monetary contributions equal to the other spouse’s acquired property. The court system reviews several factors to determine how marital property will be divided from the length of marriage and occupations to estate information and spousal contributions as a homemaker. There are many more factors a judge will review as well, meaning it’s imperative to become familiar with all aspects so you can adequately prepare for court.

Non-Marital Property

In Minnesota, non-marital property is not eligible for equitable distribution. All property acquired by each spouse before, during, or after the marriage is categorized as non-marital property. If a spouse wishes to dispute specific marital properties that should be considered non-marital property, the individual must prove that the designated property is non-marital. The evidence can consist of bank transactions, receipts, and more. Below are a few examples of non-marital property:

  • Gifts
  • Inheritance
  • Property owned before marriage
  • Property excluded by a valid prenuptial agreement
  • Property acquired through exchange of other non-marital property

Breaking Down Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota

Every state differs in how spousal maintenance is determined, and in Minnesota, many factors are reviewed to establish equitable distribution. Spousal maintenance is granted to a spouse to preserve their quality of life and give them time to individually establish themselves after a divorce. Each spouse must become familiar with the factors the court considers when granting spousal maintenance as the decision is ultimately out of your control.

What Kind of Spousal Maintenance Have You Been Awarded?

Upon reviewing various factors covered below, the judge will determine whether spousal maintenance should be awarded. There are two types of spousal maintenance available for divorcing couples, temporary and permanent. Temporary spousal maintenance is often granted for shorter marriages and is a limited-time award. This type of spousal maintenance is usually awarded as a rehabilitation opportunity for one spouse to finesse their skills and establish income for the new way of life. Permanent spousal maintenance is not as standard and is usually granted for longer marriages. This type of spousal maintenance is not permanent but will occur until a spouse dies, remarries, or the court orders otherwise.

Factors Under Consideration

Many factors within a marriage directly affect the type of spousal maintenance a judge awards, if any. Keep in mind; every divorce case is unique, meaning it’s difficult to determine how your case will turn out compared to others. The state of Minnesota strives to reach a decision based on each party’s fairness and doesn’t consider marital misconduct. Below are a few examples of what a judge assigned to your case will take under consideration:

  • Length of marriage
  • Income
  • Financial resources
  • Age
  • Standard of living
  • Skills
  • Loss of earnings
  • Retirement benefits
  • Physical and emotional health

Individual factors and events can cause spousal maintenance awards to change, from clerical errors in payments and fraud to falsified information and hidden assets. Along with these, if one spouse loses a job or has changes in health, the judge will also review these circumstances and possibly make the decision to reform a spousal maintenance order.

Essential Details of Property Division

Locations throughout the United States follow different property division guidelines, meaning it’s vital for you to become familiar with community property and equitable distribution. There are many kinds of divorce both your attorney and the court system may determine as best for your unique situation. If your divorce is civil, there is an opportunity to navigate property division outside of court. Regardless, these are three crucial property division details to consider when first initiating your divorce.

Navigating Divorce Types

Divorce comes in many forms, and becoming familiar with each type will help both you and your spouse navigate family law should you decide to pursue a divorce. Each divorce case differs, making it extremely important for each party to have guidance from an experienced family law attorney. Below are the different types of divorce that are pursued by the court system today:

  • Contested
  • Uncontested
  • Default
  • Fault and no-fault
  • Mediated
  • Collaborative
  • Arbitration

Location of Residence

The state in which both parties reside affects the type of property division. Locations throughout the United States follow different guidelines on how the court system determines property division in a divorce. These guidelines consist of community property and equitable distribution. Community property is divided between spouses, while each spouse has the opportunity to keep their separate property. Equitable distribution occurs when a court system requires all assets and earnings acquired during a divorce as marital property, meaning all items must be divided equitably. Keep in mind; this doesn’t mean the division will be equal, but fair in the sense that each spouse receives equal monetary and physical property contributions.

Solo Property Division With Your Spouse

If your divorce is a mutual decision and both spouses can remain civil, dividing property on your own is possible. Handling divorce and property division outside of court can be extremely cost-effective and is relatively simple to navigate. To get started on solo property division without court guidance, follow these simple steps:

  1. Create a list of property
  2. Establish value for each item
  3. Select an owner
  4. Have a judge grant approval

What About a High Asset Divorce?

Couples with a massive estate will pursue a high asset divorce, which can be extraordinarily complex and often emotionally taxing and stressful. Regardless of your situation, a dedicated family law attorney experienced in high asset divorces will adequately represent you with your best interest in mind.

What to Expect

During a high asset divorce, many factors are determined that can be life changing. Credible information is one of the best tools each spouse can utilize and benefit from. Regardless of the underlying factors that caused the divorce, becoming familiar with expectations and elements reviewed is highly recommended. A judge that is reviewing a high asset divorce case will likely determine the following:

  • Marital property division
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support


High asset divorces require extreme review and guidance in the financial sector as there is commonly an abundance of earnings and items of high monetary value. It’s encouraged for each spouse to compile essential financial documents early on, so documentation isn’t misplaced during the divorce process. Placing all of your finances and financial documentation in one secure location will not only give you an idea of what type of financial situation you could be dealing with but will also adequately prepare you for the upcoming work with your attorney.

Within a high asset divorce, here are both marital and non-marital assets. Many couples involved in a high asset marriage create a prenuptial agreement early on to establish what assets go to which individual. Your family law attorney will be prepared to navigate the relationship and divide property under equitable distribution guidelines. Out of state or international assets are also common during a high asset divorce, but experts are commonly brought in to sort out these matters.

Contested Divorce

A married couple who chooses to pursue a divorce may not always agree on several factors from getting divorced in general to the terms of the divorce. A contested divorce or one where the parties cannot agree commonly occurs in a high asset divorce. The state of marriage, relationship between two individuals, and cause of divorce each play into whether a divorce is contested or uncontested. A high asset divorce that is contested can be extremely time consuming and will likely result in a valuation appraiser reviewing each asset’s worth and identifying any assets that may have been brushed aside.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

From familiarizing yourself with the various types of marital property and property division to determining the needs for a high asset divorce and spousal maintenance, there are many steps couples going through a divorce can take to prepare. Each divorce differs in the amount of time spent, and each spouse’s individual needs, meaning no divorce is the same. Hiring an experienced family law attorney can set you up for success as they will provide outstanding guidance and support for the duration of your divorce case.