Imagine that you’re in the midst of a divorce with your spouse and you two are attempting to stay in your marital home together to save money until the divorce is resolved. Not surprisingly, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse get in an argument. Your spouse leaves the home to stay at a hotel until things cool down at home and you two can survive looking at each other without wanting to scream. The moment your spouse leaves and spends the night somewhere else you think, “Finally! My spouse abandoned the home and now it’s all mine!”
Just because a spouse “abandons” the home does not mean the abandoning spouse loses his or her interest in the home. Under Minnesota law, there is no such thing as a doctrine of abandonment relating to property in a divorce action. You do not instantly get the marital home the moment your spouse leaves the home and chooses to temporarily live elsewhere. You both have an equal interest in the home and its equity, pending any non-marital claims. You both still have a rightful claim to the marital home and how you want to handle it after you and your spouse are no longer married to each other. Meaning, you and your spouse agree to sell the home and divide the net equity, your spouse keeps the home and buys out your interest, or you keep the home and buy out your spouse’s interest.
“Ah! Ha! I found a loophole. Only I’m on the title to the home and the mortgage.” The State of Minnesota presumes that anything that is bought during the marriage is marital. Thus, despite you only putting your name on the title and mortgage, the home will be considered marital, unless you can prove that you bought the home prior to the marriage or with non-marital funds. If you can prove that you bought the home prior to the marriage or with non-marital funds, only a portion of the equity is considered non-marital and the rest of the equity is marital. Meaning, you get a carve-out of the equity as solely your interest, you don’t get all the equity just because you sourced the down payment. Minnesota law reflects that a home is built by you and your family. It is not just your home, it’s not just your spouse’s home, it’s your family’s home.
If you have questions related to a possible dissolution of marriage, please do not hesitate to contact our office (952) 224-9410