Can MN Courts Ever Include Nonmarital Property in a Division?

There are two categories that the various assets of two spouses who are getting divorced can fall into marital property and nonmarital property. Some examples of assets that Minnesota law generally classifies as nonmarital are: assets a person obtained prior to the marriage, assets a person obtained through inheritance, assets a person obtained through a gift, and assets that a valid prenuptial agreement classified as nonmarital.

Typically, in a Minnesota divorce, only marital property can be split between the spouses in a court-decided division of the marital estate. Usually, the nonmarital property is exempt from division and remains with whichever spouse it belongs to. However, there are certain narrow circumstances in which Minnesota courts are allowed to include nonmarital property in a divorce property division. 

One instance in which state law allows Minnesota courts to conduct nonmarital property division in a divorce is in the event of undue hardship. Specifically, a court has the option of dividing nonmarital property in addition to the marital property if it finds that circumstances are such that only dividing marital property would cause one of the spouses to have a resource/property level that is so inadequate that it would cause them undue hardship. A couple of things to note about this provision are that property that is classified as nonmarital property as the result of the terms of a valid prenuptial agreement is not among the types of nonmarital property the provision allows courts to divide in the case of undue hardship and that the provision limits the amount of eligible nonmarital property a court can award to a spouse due to undue hardship to one-half of such property.

While there are certain limited circumstances in which nonmarital property can be divided into a Minnesota divorce, it is important to note that in the vast majority of situations nonmarital property will not be subject to division. Thus, the various pieces of property a couple has been classified as in a divorce can have very significant impacts when it comes to property division. Divorce attorneys can provide divorcing individuals with help and advice when it comes to property classification issues.