Legal Memorandum: Transfer of Mineral Rights after a Divorce

Issue: Whether a mineral rights may be transferred because of divorce proceedings.

Area of Law: Environmental Law, Family Law
Keywords: Mineral interests; Divorce proceedings; Transfer
Jurisdiction: North Dakota
Cited Cases: 129 N.W.2d 694
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 09/01/2012

One North Dakota case was closely on point in that it involves the transfer of mineral interests before and during the pendency of a divorce.  In Rozan v. Rozan, 129 N.W.2d 694 (N.D. 1964), the parties lived in California and were divorced in California.  In 1951, a few years before the divorce, the husband borrowed some money, travelled to North Dakota and acquired mineral interests by deed or lease, mostly in his own name.  He acquired some interests in his wife’s name.  He had his wife sign conveyance paperwork in blank, so he could fill in the blanks later to convey interests as he wished.  

Two years later, using the forms the wife had signed in blank, the husband transferred acreage of one property, referred to as the “Kvam” property, to his nephew, but kept an actual and beneficial interest.  The Kvam property became very valuable.  The parties separated in 1953 and two months later, the husband conveyed the remaining North Dakota mineral interests to a third party in trust to his son and another.  The wife did not know about either transfer. 

The wife eventually obtained a divorce judgment in California, which addressed the mineral interests in North Dakota.  The judgment gave the wife 65% of all community property, including the real-property interests in North Dakota.  Id. at 699.  The wife and one of the husband’s judgment creditors then brought actions in North Dakota to enforce the decree and the third […]

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