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Going through a divorce is draining in every sense of the word. Between the emotional toll and logistical details, the process leaves you feeling exhausted and ready for it to just be over.

However, when kids, assets, debts, and livelihoods hang in the balance, settling quickly shouldn’t trump settling smartly.

Certain provisions in your divorce settlement agreement carry heavy long-term consequences. Overlook one today, and you could spend years regretting what you failed to fight for—or fighting relentlessly after the fact.

To avoid needless post-divorce strife and financial strain, insist that your settlement includes these 5 must-haves upfront.

1. Balanced Child Custody and Child Support Arrangements

If children are involved, child custody and support will need to be addressed in your divorce settlement. Even if your children are older, you’ll want to negotiate a custody arrangement and parenting time schedule that allows you to stay involved in their lives.

Regarding Minnesota child support guidelines, the amount will depend on both parents’ incomes and the amount of time each parent will spend with the children. Ask your attorney to ensure the child support payments are fair based on your custody arrangement and income levels.

Support agreements should outline who covers expenses like health insurance, school fees, medical bills, and extracurricular activities. You’ll also want to consider child care and college savings contributions that may be needed.

2. Your Fair Share of Marital Assets

Dividing up marital assets like your house, vehicles, bank accounts, and other property acquired during the marriage is often one of the most contentious parts of divorce negotiations. Depending on the facts and circumstances, assets considered marital property will usually be divided in an approximately equal manner in Minnesota. However, what constitutes a fair share will depend on factors like:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Contributions each spouse made, like income and investments
  • Needs of each spouse post-divorce

Make sure all marital assets are properly valued – this may involve getting a formal valuation by a neutral party. Then, ask your divorce attorney to fight for a division of assets that allows you to maintain your lifestyle after the divorce. Don’t be afraid to negotiate – getting what you want often means giving up other assets in return.

3. An Equitable Split of Marital Debts

Just as assets get divided in a divorce, the marital debt must be equally split in your settlement. This includes things like credit card debt, personal loans, and the mortgage on your home. Make sure that joint debts are split fairly based on factors like who incurred the debt and who received the benefits.

You shouldn’t be saddled with debts you had no part in creating. However, even debts solely in your spouse’s name may be deemed marital debt if they benefited the marriage, like paying for family vacations on a credit card. Get clear on exactly how debts will be divided so you can make a clean break without ongoing financial entanglements.

4. Spousal Support or Alimony, if Applicable

In some cases, alimony or spousal maintenance may be appropriate depending on the length of your marriage, income levels, and other factors. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support for an economically dependent spouse after divorce. There are different types of alimony in Minnesota, including:

  • Temporary alimony to cover needs during divorce proceedings
  • Short-term support to facilitate transition
  • Long-term maintenance where there is a disparity in income

Talk to your lawyer about whether alimony makes sense in your situation and what amount you should reasonably request or expect to pay based on state guidelines. Make sure the terms of your divorce settlement clearly specify the alimony amount, type, and duration agreed upon.

5. Your Portion of Retirement and Investment Accounts

Retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, as well as investment accounts built up during the marriage, are often divided in divorce. It’s essential that you work with your family law attorney to get your fair share of the retirement and investment accounts built up jointly over the years.

This includes getting a fair share of the account balances as well as avoiding any tax penalties for early withdrawal. Make sure the terms of the divorce settlement agreement specify how and when retirement assets will be divided. You don’t want to get stuck paying extra taxes or surrendering your share earlier than necessary.

Additional Terms that May Be Worth Discussing

Besides the major items above, here are some additional terms you may want to address in your agreement for divorce settlement in Minnesota:

  • Ownership and sale of the marital home – Decide if one spouse can buy the other out, or if you’ll sell and split proceeds
  • Division of insurance policies like health, life, home, and auto – Determine how these will be divided up
  • Tax returns and dependents – Specify who can claim children as dependents and how joint returns will be handled
  • Closing and splitting bank accounts and joint credit cards
  • Division of frequent flyer miles, reward points, and other intangible assets
  • Division of personal property like home furnishings, jewelry, and collectibles

While not the key components that sustain your very livelihood and ability to rebuild, issues like bank accounts and property division can get messy fast if left unresolved. Don’t let lingering logistics dampen your fresh start.

Work with an MN Experienced Divorce Attorney

At Martine Law, our Minneapolis divorce attorneys have extensive experience negotiating divorce settlements across the Twin Cities area.

We take time to understand your priorities, advise you of your options, and craft proposals that reflect your interests. And if an out-of-court settlement can’t be reached, we’ll skillfully represent you in contested divorce litigation.

To get started on your Minnesota divorce case and ensure you know what to ask for in your settlement, schedule a consultation with our team today. We are here to fight for the outcomes you want and deserve in your divorce.