Legal Memorandum: Valuation of Marital Estate at Separation

Issue: Applying Minnesota divorce law, can the marital estate be valued at the time of separation when the separation was lengthy but there was no written separation agreement?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Marital estate value; Time of separation; Written separation agreement
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 375 N.W.2d 30; 435 N.W.2d 569; 427 N.W.2d 691; 373 N.W.2d 604
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. Ann. §. 518.58, subd. 1;
Date: 02/01/2001

The courts must apply Minn. Stat. §. 518.58, which provides:

The court shall value marital assets for the purposes of division between the parties as of the day of the initially scheduled prehearing settlement conference, unless a different date is agreed upon by the parties, or unless the court makes specific findings that another date of valuation is fair and equitable. 


Minn. Stat. Ann. §. 518.58, subd. 1 (West Supp. 1998).  In a decision that predates this section and applies an earlier statute presuming valuation as of the date of the decree, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected an effort to value property at the beginning of a five-year separation.  Fastner v. Fastner, 427 N.W.2d 691 (Minn. Ct. App. 1988).  “In the absence of extraordinary circumstances, marital property includes property acquired by the parties between their separation and final decree.”  Id. at 699.  Applying the then-current statute, the court of appeals also has refused to overturn a trial court that had declined to value property as of the date of separation, seven years earlier.  Kitchar v. Kitchar, 553 N.W.2d 97, 102-03 (Minn. Ct. App. 1996).  There the trial court had noted that it was impossible to trace […]

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