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Minnesota is a no fault divorce state

I recently had a client ask me if the division of property in his divorce would be affected by the fact that he had an affair. I’m surprised how often this question still comes up in my practice. The answer is, absolutely not. Minnesota became a “no fault” divorce state several decades ago. This fact comes from two places in the statutes. First, Minn. Stat. 518.06 simply states that a divorce will be granted “when the court finds that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.” This does not mean that both parties must agree that there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship. If one party makes this allegation, the court can find that the grounds for divorce have been met. Second, Minn. Stat. 518.58, the statute related to property division, states that in a dissolution of marriage, “the court shall make a just and equitable division of the marital property of the parties without regard to marital misconduct, after making findings regarding the division of the property.” So, regardless of who had the affair, the court must equitably divide marital property. In other words, the court doesn’t usually care why you are getting divorced. The only time the reasons for the divorce are considered at all is with respect to custody and parenting time. For example, if the marriage is ending because of substance abuse issues or untreated mental health issues on the part of one or both spouses, those issues can affect the custody and parenting time outcome in the case.

Gillian Blomquist