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A divorce settlement agreement, also known as a marital settlement agreement, is a crucial legal document that helps two divorcing spouses in Minnesota reach a fair resolution by detailing the division of assets and debts, child custody arrangements, child support payments, and spousal support or alimony.

This agreement becomes a legally binding contract once signed by both parties and submitted to the court as part of the divorce proceedings.

Crafting a thorough and equitable divorce settlement agreement is a complex process, but having a detailed agreement can help you avoid prolonged disputes and simplify your divorce. Below, we’ll discuss what to expect as you prepare to draft your Minnesota divorce settlement agreement.

What is the Divorce Settlement Agreement?

A divorce agreement in Minnesota is a written contract signed by both spouses planning to divorce. It lays out the agreed-upon terms for dividing property, distributing debt, arranging child custody and support if applicable, and determining alimony.

This agreement becomes legally binding once signed and submitted to the court as part of the divorce proceedings. When the judge reviews your divorce petition, they will ensure your divorce settlement agreement follows Minnesota laws before granting a divorce decree.

What to Include in a Minnesota Divorce Settlement Agreement

A divorce settlement agreement outlines the key terms and provisions for how you and your spouse will handle major issues related to your separation or divorce. This agreement becomes legally binding once signed and submitted to the court as part of the divorce proceedings.

Identifying Information

Start your Minnesota divorce agreement by providing key details:

  • Full legal names of the petitioner and respondent
  • Addresses of both parties
  • Date of marriage
  • Date of separation
  • Names and birth dates of any minor children
  • Statement that the marriage is irretrievably broken (for a no-fault divorce)

This section confirms you meet residency requirements for a Minnesota divorce and establishes details about your marriage and separation.

Division of Assets and Debts

Since Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, assets and debts are divided in an equitable but not necessarily equal manner during divorce. The court considers factors like the length of your marriage and each spouse’s financial contributions when determining a fair division of assets.

In your divorce agreement, specify how you and your spouse will split assets like:

  • Personal bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs
  • Pension plans
  • Life insurance policies with cash value
  • Brokerage and investment accounts
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Personal property (furniture, jewelry, art, etc.)

Also indicate who will assume responsibility for debts like:

  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Auto loans
  • Personal loans
  • Medical bills

Listing the details for dividing each asset and liability clearly in your settlement agreement can prevent future disputes over property division.

Spousal Support

Your divorce agreement should state whether one spouse will pay spousal maintenance (alimony) to the other after the divorce. Specify the monthly payment amount and duration of spousal support.

Note that under Minnesota statutes, the court may award maintenance payments for a set time period to help the receiving spouse become financially independent. Or the court may order permanent spousal maintenance in marriages of long duration where a spouse can’t reasonably gain employment to meet their needs.

If spousal support is awarded, your agreement can detail provisions like:

  • The date payments will commence
  • How long payments will continue
  • Conditions under which spousal support will terminate (remarriage, death, etc.)
  • Whether the amount can be modified at a later date

Having spousal maintenance terms in your divorce agreement clarifies both parties’ support expectations after divorce.

Child Custody and Support

If you have minor children, your Minnesota divorce agreement must cover custody arrangements and child support.

For custody, specify if you will share joint legal custody or if one parent will have sole legal and physical custody. Then, outline your parenting time schedule indicating when each parent will have residential time with the children.

Next, determine child support based on Minnesota’s child support guidelines. The non-custodial parent will typically make monthly child support payments to the custodial parent.

Your agreement should list details like:

  • The monthly child support amount using worksheets from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
  • Which parent will pay child support?
  • If you’ll share expenses like health insurance premiums and child care costs.
  • When child support payments will begin and end.

Having a detailed parenting plan and child support terms in your settlement agreement minimizes the need for future modifications.


Specify in your divorce agreement which spouse can claim children as dependents on tax returns following your divorce. Also, note the tax year when you will begin filing individual income tax returns rather than joint returns.

Other Provisions

Your Minnesota divorce agreement can include other relevant provisions such as:

  • Dividing frequent flyer miles and rewards points accounts
  • Agreeing not to disparage each other
  • Keeping life insurance policies to secure child support or alimony
  • Handling private school or college tuition for children
  • Pet ownership

Including specifics on these types of topics in your settlement agreement provides clarification for both spouses on miscellaneous divorce-related matters not covered under property division, support, and custody.

How to Write a Divorce Settlement Agreement in Minnesota

If you plan to draft your own divorce settlement agreement in Minnesota, follow these steps:

  1. Discuss all topics – Discuss openly and honestly with your spouse to determine how you will divide your marital assets and debts and arrange for child custody, support, and alimony if applicable. Consider consulting with family law attorneys to know your options.
  2. List all assets – Take inventory of all assets acquired during the marriage. This includes property, financial accounts, investments, retirement funds, vehicles, jewelry, furniture, and anything else of monetary value. Get appraisals done as needed.
  3. List all debts – List any debts in either spouse’s name, including mortgages, loans, credit cards, taxes owed, etc.
  4. Research state laws – Review Minnesota’s divorce laws to ensure your agreement meets all legal requirements regarding asset division, spousal/child support, custody arrangements, and filing procedures.
  5. Determine asset division – Decide who gets which assets and divide them fairly and equitably. Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, so you’ll want a balance of 50/50.
  6. Assign debt responsibility – Similarly, determine who will retain responsibility for paying off which debts after the divorce is finalized.
  7. Calculate support amounts – Use Minnesota’s child support guidelines to determine appropriate amounts. Also, calculate spousal support or alimony amounts if applicable.
  8. Establish custody schedule – Create a parenting time schedule that outlines when each spouse will have physical custody of any children. Be specific about drop-offs, pickups, holidays, vacations, etc.
  9. Specify all details – Carefully identify every asset, debt, account, policy, payment schedule, and custody detail. Ambiguous language can cause issues later.
  10. Review with lawyers – Allow divorce attorneys for both spouses to review the agreement and provide input before it is finalized. They can help ensure the agreement is compliant with Minnesota laws.
  11. Sign agreement – Both spouses should sign the divorce settlement agreement only when they fully agree on all outlined terms and conditions.
  12. File with court – After being signed, the agreement and the rest of the divorce paperwork can be filed in court. The agreement must be approved by a judge and incorporated into the final divorce decree.

It’s important to note that a divorce settlement agreement requires compromises from both spouses. Be prepared to negotiate, and don’t force unreasonable demands. Ultimately, you’ll want an agreement that is fair to both parties.

Tips for Writing an Agreement You Both Support

Reaching a consensus on divorce terms can certainly be challenging. Here are some tips to smooth the process:

  • Be transparent about finances. Hiding assets or debts will undermine the trust required for successful negotiations. Share all account statements and tax returns.
  • Communicate respectfully. Sit down together in a neutral location. Listen attentively and speak calmly. Take breaks if needed.
  • Involve attorneys judiciously. Legal counsel can help with technical aspects, like valuing assets. But try to negotiate fundamental terms just between yourselves first.
  • Consider mediation. If communicating one-on-one becomes too difficult, enlisting a neutral third-party mediator could help move discussions forward.
  • Focus on the children. Make custody arrangements based on their best interests, not your own desires. Compromise to minimize disruptions in their lives.
  • Look to the future. Try to part on decent terms. You’ll be co-parenting together for years to come.

Consult Experienced Minnesota Divorce Lawyers

Drafting a detailed divorce settlement agreement upfront can simplify your divorce process, avoid prolonged disputes, and ensure fairness for you and your spouse as you dissolve your marriage.

Consult experienced Minnesota divorce lawyers at Martine Law to discuss your options. With an attorney’s guidance, you can reach an optimal settlement agreement. Schedule a free case review now.