Marital property is any property that is acquired during the marriage. If during your marriage you and your spouse purchase a home, then this home is considered “marital property.” If during the marriage, you start a new job and receive a retirement account through your position, the retirement account is considered “marital property.”
Non-marital property is anything acquired prior to the marriage or any specific bequest or devise that you receive during your marriage. If you bought a car before you were married, then this car is considered “non-marital” property. If your grandmother passes away during your marriage and she specifically leaves only you a sum of money, then that money is “non-marital” property.
Property can be both marital and non-marital. For example, if you purchased a home prior to the marriage but then you and your spouse live in the home, make improvements, and build the home’s equity, then the home is both marital and non-marital.
Why does it matter if property is non-marital? In Minnesota, the Court divides all marital property equitably, which oftentimes means that the Court will divide all of the marital assets in half. In the case of the home purchased prior to the marriage with equity built during the marriage, the Court will parcel out the marital portion and the non-marital portion. This is done through a procedure called tracing. The Court will look at any documents that a spouse produces demonstrating the price of the home prior to the marriage. The Court will then trace through any improvements on the home or changes in equity and come up with an amount on the home that is marital. The Court will then divide the portion of the home that is deemed marital and award the spouse any non-marital interest that he or she had.
Deciding what assets are marital and non-marital can become a complicated process and may be the basis for disputes during the dissolution. Individuals seeking divorces should provide the attorneys with all financial information possible, so that the attorneys can provide the Court with the information that it needs to divide all of the property in a marriage.
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