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Is property owned pre-marriage subject to equal division?

Couples who divorce in Minnesota frequently have many issues they're concerned about as the case moves forward. One of the issues that garners a great deal of attention is property division and who gets what in the settlement. If one spouse owned a property prior to the marriage, the fear of that property being subject to equal division is something that can cause great consternation. This is something that crops up with older couples as well as younger couples.

When determining whether property will be a point of dispute in the divorce, it's imperative to have understandable examples when assessing it. There is a difference between non-marital property and marital property. If the assets were accrued after the marriage, then they're probably going to be part of the divorce asset split and will have to be shared. On the other hand, if the asset was owned by only one of the spouses, it might not be part of the property division.

In the event that there is a particularly valuable item, however, it's possible that there will be a request for property valuation and the item will be in dispute. If, for example, a home is in a neighborhood that is gentrifying and increasing in value, its value will likely increase exponentially from what it was before the couple was married. This could lead to a disagreement as to how much of the value will go to the spouse who didn't own it prior to marriage.

Monthly mortgage payments and down-payments must be accounted for when assessing property valuation and asset division. In addition, if one of the spouses built or bought the home prior to getting married, that too will come into play. Likewise, if the spouse added value to the home prior to the marriage, the couple must consider that during the property division phase of the divorce.

When it comes to homes and other assets, property division can become quite complex. The circumstances of each divorce case are different and both spouses should understand their legal options when it comes to property division issues.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Common Questions about Real Estate in Divorce," accessed on Aug. 11, 2014

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