In most divorces the parties and the court must address the division of assets between spouses. Under Minnesota law, each divorce court is required to make a “just and equitable division of marital property of the parties.” Further this division is to be made without regard to material misconduct, in other words, “no fault”.
What is a “fair and equitable division of marital assets?
In order to make this division, the court will consider the following factors and base its findings on what dividing the marital estate includes:
• the length of the parties’ marriage
• any prior marriage of a party
• the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income
• vocational skills
• estate, liabilities, needs, opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets, and
• income of each party
Further, a district court may properly consider a spousal maintenance award in dividing marital property.
It should also be noted that the court may also award to either spouse the household goods and furniture of the parties, whether or not acquired during the marriage.
Is equitable distribution the same as equal distribution?
The short answer is, not necessarily. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, although in more than half of divorces Minnesota courts seem to order near-equal divisions of marital property.
In Minnesota, there is a conclusive presumption that each spouse made a substantial contribution to the acquisition of income and property while they were living together as husband and wife. Further, the Court is required to make a just and equitable division of the marital property.
However, the division of martial property need not be mathematically equal. Trial courts are not required to find that a contribution which was substantial is equal. In fact, trial courts have broad discretion over the division of material property.