Whether a couple has been married for decades or just a few years, there is a good chance that they accumulated plenty of marital property. Jointly owning property with a spouse is pretty convenient, especially when it comes to things like bank accounts, homes and even debt. But what happens to all that marital property during a divorce? Here’s what Minnesota has to say about property division.

There is an important distinction between marital and personal property. With a few exceptions, most everything acquired during marriage is considered marital property. Personal property — also called separate property — is generally anything acquired before marriage. Personal gifts and inheritances are usually separate property too, even if the recipient was married at the time.

Property division only deals with marital assets. Those assets will be divided equitably, which is not to be confused with equally. A divorcing couple or a family law judge will decide how to split marital property in the fairest way possible. Of course that could mean an equal 50/50 split in some situations, but no one should head into divorce with the expectation of walking off with half of everything.

Divorce is an emotionally charged process, and some people let those emotions spill over into property division. However, endlessly fighting over who gets what or who deserves more rarely helps. Taking steps to familiarize oneself with marital assets and to manage expectations is usually a better approach. Minnesota family law is complicated, though, so many people find it helpful to speak with an experienced attorney about how to approach property division and other aspects of divorce.