Q: What is the difference between a community property state and a non-community property state? What is the impact on a divorce?
A: A community property state is one in which the law provides that all marital property is divided equally between spouses upon divorce. In other words, each spouse is presumed to own an undivided one-half interest in the property. Minnesota is not a community property state. (Currently, the community property states are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.) In Minnesota, the law provides for an equitable division of marital property rather than an equal division. The factors the court considers in equitably dividing property includes all relevant factors, like the length of the marriage, the age, health, occupation, employability, income, assets, estate, vocational skills, opportunity to acquire assets in the future, and debts of both parties. In addition, the Minnesota courts must also consider the contribution of each spouse in the acquisition, preservation, growth, and depreciation of marital property, as well as the contributions of a spouse as homemaker. That being the case, in Minnesota it is entirely possible for one spouse to be awarded more than half of the marital property if the circumstances justify such a result.
Letty M-S Van Ert is an associate attorney at Tuft & Lach, PLLC located in Maplewood, MN. In addition to representing clients in the areas of estate planning, probate, divorce and other family law matters, she is also a Rule 114 Qualified Neutral (mediator) serving clients in Bloomington, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Plymouth, St. Louis Park, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding areas.