In general, during their marriage, each spouse has the right to use or get rid of any property the couple owns. For example, either person can charge on a joint credit card, use a vehicle that is in both of their names, give away joint personal property, or withdraw money from a joint bank account.
There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule. Neither spouse can sell a vehicle that is in the other spouse’s name, or sell real estate, regardless of whether it is titled in one spouse’s name or both. Neither spouse can withdraw money from a bank account if it is in the name of the other spouse only, or cash checks made out to the other spouse.
It is important to realize that a spouse does not have the right to get rid of any property or money in anticipation of divorce. Once you initiate a divorce, or even think about doing so, you owe a fiduciary duty to your spouse and there are additional limits on what you can do. For example, you cannot cash out your retirement account because you don’t want your spouse to get it. If the Court finds that a spouse has “transferred, encumbered, concealed, or disposed of marital assets,” Minnesota law requires that the Court hold that spouse liable for doing so. Generally, this means that the other spouse is given additional marital assets to make up the difference.
To discuss property division, or any other family law issue, call Kruse Family Law PLLC, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you begin considering divorce, you owe a fiduciary duty to your spouse.