When you got married, what was “yours” and “mine” became “ours” for the most part. But now that your marriage is ending, you and your spouse must split up your property again, even though you have probably acquired a great deal of property during your marriage.

This can be an involved and complicated process, but if done properly, you can walk away with a solid financial base for the next chapter of your life. Here’s a brief overview of how property division works in Minnesota divorce law.

The first thing you need to know is that Minnesota is an equitable division state. Most property that you and your spouse have acquired during your marriage is considered marital property that the two of you own jointly. To complete your divorce, you and your ex must figure out how to divide this property “equitably,” a legal term that means “fairly.” Common pieces of marital property include bank accounts, retirement savings, the family home and other real estate, and household items like furniture and artwork.

Who owns what?

Part of this process is figuring out what property is marital property and what is nonmarital property. Most of your property will probably be marital, but there are exceptions. Each spouse gets to keep nonmarital property that they own individually. Once that is determined, the spouses and their divorce attorneys begin negotiations. However, if the couple has a prenuptial agreement that determines property division, these negotiations are unnecessary.

Finding solutions to asset division problems

Complex and valuable assets can require creative solutions. For example, if you and your spouse jointly own a business, one of you can buy out the other to keep it going, perhaps as an alternative to spousal maintenance. Keep in mind that equitable property division does not have to be an exact 50/50 split. It just means that the division you agree on cannot be so unfair to one spouse that the judge rejects it. If you and your spouse cannot work out a settlement, the judge will hold a trial to hear evidence and decide the division of assets themselves.

Property division can be emotionally difficult, but the right legal help can separate emotions from the process and get you through as efficiently and fairly as possible.