What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce Settlement?
Nobody expects their marriage to take a turn for the worst, but the truth is that nearly 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce.
The end of a relationship can feel overwhelming. Your daily routine and activities can change in the blink of an eye, and it can be hard to adjust emotionally.
At the same time that you are picking up the pieces, you also have to consider how your divorce will impact you financially. This article will cover important information about what a wife is entitled to in a divorce settlement.
Understanding the Difference Between Separate Property and Marital Property
Generally, two types of property, community (marital) property and separate property, must be considered in every divorce settlement.
The marital property encompasses all earnings acquired during your marriage and any assets purchased with those earnings. Debts incurred during the marriage are generally considered marital property debts unless the creditor specifically sought payment from one spouse’s separate property.
Non-marital property belonging to one spouse includes gifts and inheritances received solely by that spouse, personal injury awards granted to that spouse and vested pension proceeds received before the marriage.
Property acquired using an individual’s separate funds remains their separate property. If one spouse owned a business before the marriage, it typically remains their separate property during the marriage, though a portion may be classified as marital property if its value increased during the marriage or both spouses contributed to its growth.
Property purchased with separate and marital funds is considered part marital and non-marital property, provided that a spouse can demonstrate the use of separate funds. When non-marital property is mixed with marital property, it typically becomes marital property.
Minnesota’s Equitable Distribution Law
You might think all property and money in a marriage get divided equally, but that’s not how it works. Under the state of Minnesota’s equitable distribution law, each spouse is entitled to an “equitable” portion of the property acquired during the couple’s marriage. It’s important to note that “equitable” and “equal” do not mean the same thing legally.
In Minnesota, courts generally take into account the following criteria when making determinations about property division:
- The assets and financial standing of each spouse.
- Any alimony granted to either spouse.
- The income and earning potential of each spouse.
- The interpersonal behavior between the spouses during the marriage.
- Any misconduct leading to the waste of assets by either spouse.
- The future requirements of either spouse encompass considerations like retirement preparations.
- The debts incurred by each spouse.
In short, each spouse will get to keep their separate property, and marital property will be subject to equitable distribution using the criteria above.
What Steps Are Involved in the Equitable Division of Property?
These are the steps that you can expect before a settlement is reached:
- Inventory: The initial step involves a comprehensive inventory of all assets and liabilities, a disclosure that both parties must make to each other.
- Asset Valuation: Establishing the value of diverse assets and debts within a divorce context is very important. Having a clear understanding of each item’s worth facilitates equitable distribution.
- Asset Categorization: Following the comprehensive accounting of assets and debts, the next phase is to classify each asset (or debt) as marital or separate. While exceptions exist, the general rule, as covered above, is that items acquired before the marriage are considered individual, whereas those acquired during the marriage are deemed marital. This distinction holds significance because only marital assets are subject to division during divorce proceedings. Individual assets typically remain separate and are not subject to court-mandated division.
- Asset Allocation: Finally, the assets are allocated. Whenever feasible, it is often advisable to resolve these matters through negotiation and mediation rather than having the court make determinations. By addressing these issues outside the courtroom, couples maintain more control and flexibility, enabling them to reach a mutually agreeable asset distribution arrangement that benefits all parties involved.
While this is the most common scenario for each divorce proceeding, every financial situation is unique. Consult with a Minnesota divorce lawyer to review the specifics of your case.
The Dangers of Dividing Marital Property Without the Help of an Attorney
Emotions typically run very high during divorce proceedings. This can lead to people making impulsive decisions that they consider to be in their best interest. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for ex-spouses to try to play games during settlement proceedings. One of the most common things they will do is attempt to conceal valuable assets. It is illegal for anyone to conceal their property during a settlement to try to influence the proceedings in their favor.
Let’s say that your marriage ended on a relatively positive note, and you decide to divide your property. While this might be an appealing way to avoid legal hurdles, it can be a terrible idea. Emotions are not a reliable predictor of how somebody might feel later. Although your feelings towards your ex-spouse might be relatively peaceful now, this can quickly change as you spend time apart.
If things sour, you don’t want to have any regrets about how you decided to divide your property. The financial situation of your marriage is unique to your relationship and can be incredibly complex. You need a Minnesota divorce attorney who can help you navigate these complexities and ensure that you receive a fair and equitable settlement.
Divorce marks a major transition in your life. It’s important to take the right steps during this tumultuous period to lay a solid financial foundation for your future. The best way to do this is to hire a Minnesota divorce attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of an equitable divorce settlement. Contact Martine Law today for help.