How Long Do You Have to Be Married to Get Half of Everything in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, the rules surrounding marital property division are different than in some other states. You may be wondering – how many years do I need to be married before I’m entitled to half of our assets?
The short answer is that in Minnesota, the length of your marriage does not necessarily entitle you to an automatic 50/50 split of marital property. Here’s a closer look at how assets are divided in Minnesota divorce cases and what factors impact property division.
Overview of Property Division in Minnesota
Minnesota is an “equitable division” state when it comes to divorce. This means marital property is divided fairly between spouses but not necessarily equally. The court will aim to distribute assets and debts equitably based on the circumstances of the marriage.
So, how does the court determine what’s equitable? Here are some of the main factors considered:
- Length of the marriage
- Contributions each spouse made during the marriage (financial or otherwise)
- Current income and financial needs of each spouse
- Health and employability of each spouse
- Whether one spouse will retain the family home or business
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances at the time of division
- Tax consequences of property division
- Future earning potential of each spouse
The length of the marriage is often a key factor in property division. But there is no set formula in Minnesota that entitles you to half of the marital assets once you’ve been married for a certain number of years.
What is Considered Marital Property in Minnesota?
Before assets can be divided in divorce, the court must classify property as either “marital” or “non-marital.” Only marital property is divisible.
Marital property generally includes any assets or debts acquired during the marriage by either spouse. This may include:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts like 401(k)s
- Stock portfolios
- Personal property like furniture, jewelry, art
Non-marital property is generally any property acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage. This is considered separate property belonging to that individual spouse. Non-marital property usually remains with the acquiring spouse after divorce.
Does the Length of Your Marriage Matter?
The length of your marriage is one factor judges must consider when equitably dividing marital property in Minnesota. There is no magic number for how long you must be married to automatically be awarded half.
However, some general guidelines on the length of marriage exist:
- Shorter marriages (under 10 years) – More weight may be given to which spouse acquired the property when dividing it. The court has discretion to award the bulk of an asset to the spouse who owned it prior to marriage or received it as a gift or inheritance during the short marriage.
- Medium-length marriages (10-20 years) – The length of the marriage carries more weight here. The spouse who did not directly acquire an asset still typically has rights to it since it was accumulated during a significant portion of the marriage. Assets acquired jointly or by one spouse are more likely to be divided close to equally.
- Long marriages (20+ years) – The length of the marriage is a strong factor. After being together so long, both spouses are seen as entitled to an equitable share of marital property, no matter how it was acquired.
While not definitive, these guidelines provide a general idea of how marriage length impacts property division. The bottom line is that even in long marriages, Minnesota does not mandate an equal 50/50 split. The court will aim for an equitable division based on all relevant facts.
How Long to Be Married For Half of Assets?
There is no set number of years after which you become automatically entitled to half of all marital property in Minnesota. The court has broad discretion to divide assets equitably based on the facts of each case.
That said, marriages lasting 20 years or longer often tend closer to an equal, 50/50 split of assets. After being together for so long, spouses are seen as contributing equally to the marital estate. Both spouses’ lives and finances are heavily intertwined after decades together.
So, while a 50/50 split is never guaranteed, the lengthier the marriage, the more likely an equal division will be ordered. The exception could be where one spouse made significantly higher earnings or comes from inheriting family wealth.
Does Cohabiting Before Marriage Matter?
If you lived together and shared assets before getting married, this can make property division more complex. Technically, assets acquired before you were legally married are not marital property.
However, if you cohabited and then got married without executing a cohabitation agreement, certain assets acquired during that period may still be deemed marital property subject to division. Your divorce lawyer can help you navigate this issue.
How an Experienced Divorce Attorney Can Help
Navigating property division, spousal maintenance, and child support can be extremely complex. Having an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer on your side to protect your rights can make all the difference.
Some of the key ways a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help with asset division include:
- Accurately classifying all marital vs. separate property
- Gathering documentation of all assets and debts
- Valuing complex assets like real estate holdings or businesses
- Negotiating an equitable division on your behalf
- Making sure you keep assets that are meaningful to you
- Avoiding mistakes that could negatively impact your settlement
- Explaining legal processes to you in simple terms
While you may not be legally entitled to exactly half of the marital estate, an attorney can fight to maximize your rightful share of assets based on your specific circumstances. Don’t leave it to chance – consult a family law attorney from the outset for the best results.
Financial Realities to Prepare For After Divorce
Divorce almost always brings financial challenges. Here are some proactive steps you can take to protect your finances:
- Adjust your budget. Create a new budget that accounts for losing access to your spouse’s income and benefits. Look for areas to save, like downsizing your housing, lowering utilities, reducing entertainment costs, etc.
- Build your credit. Lenders will look at your individual credit score after divorce. Maintain low revolving balances and make loan payments on time.
- Retain assets. Keep investment accounts, retirement funds, and valuable personal property awarded to you in the divorce. Don’t cash them out or sell them off unless absolutely needed.
- Update beneficiaries. Remove your former spouse as the beneficiary on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts. Name new beneficiaries like children or other family members.
- Modify insurance. Shop for health, auto, and life insurance tailored to your new single status. Removing your ex-spouse can significantly lower premiums.
Create an emergency fund. Having 3-6 months of living expenses saved can help you handle unplanned expenses without going into debt post-divorce.
The financial impact of divorce can be softened when you plan carefully and take control of your finances. Consult a financial advisor and divorce attorney to create a smart money strategy.
Take Control of Your Divorce With Experienced Legal Representation
Going through a divorce in Minnesota doesn’t have to leave you struggling financially if you work with a skilled divorce and family law attorney. The lawyers at Martine Law help clients achieve fair property and debt division so they can start fresh after divorce.
We will carefully evaluate your situation and advise you regarding your rights for alimony and an equitable share of assets based on factors like the length of your marriage and respective incomes and needs. With robust experience in Minnesota courts, we are prepared to aggressively litigate when needed to protect your financial future.
Don’t take chances with your divorce settlement. Contact us to schedule a case evaluation and start taking control of the legal process. Our Twin Cities divorce attorneys provide comprehensive representation you can rely on from start to finish.