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Family Law | Property Division: Be informed and Be Careful of What You Ask For…

Minnesota provides statutory guidelines for the division of assets. For those couples who cannot agree on how assets are to be divided, the court is asked to make those decisions for them. And, sometimes, those decisions can surprise everyone.

In Szarke v. Szarke, a Minnesota couple learned the hard way that a simple disagreement can lead to unpredictable outcomes in court, leaving both spouses out in the cold. Nearby Wright County, Minnesota, residents litigated the division of their marital assets, after being unable to come to an agreement. Both spouses agreed that the family cabin, the Deerwood property, would be given to the husband; however, they could not agree upon the property’s value. A real estate appraiser, originally hired by both parties, valued Deerwood at $185,000. The wife contended that the property, because it had a large pond on it, should be valued around $250,000 like nearby waterfront properties. The district court decided that both parties failed to prove the property’s fair market value by a preponderance of the evidence, and although if found the property value to be $185,000, it held that, because the parties could not agree on the fair market value, “the market will determine its fair market value” and ordered the property to be sold.”

While the Court of Appeals overruled the trial court’s ruling because its order was in conflict with its own terms, it did note that the trial court had the authority to do so despite the agreement by the parties.

Every divorce case is different, and every couple comes to the table with a different set of circumstances. Therefore, the outcome of every divorce will be different. Our experienced attorneys can provide guidance that will inform you as to the issues and the law so you can direct the outcome of your case, one that is met with fewer surprises.