In Minnesota divorce cases, trial judges have significant power to determine when and how to award marital assets. Rarely are their decisions overturned on appeal.
Even before a divorce is final, judges have the power to permanently divide or dispose of marital assets. If a judge believes it is necessary to preserve marital assets, the judge can order a sale of the homestead (or sale of any other marital asset–including business interests, farm land, etc.) and can also dispose of the funds from that sale as the Court deems fair and just. The judge may also make a partial distribution of assets to one party or the other for good cause shown. “Good cause” is hard to define, but most judges would probably say that they know it when they see it.
Pre-decree sale and disposition statutes give judges the power to preserve assets, protect the parties’ interests, and otherwise “keep things fair” while a divorce case moves through the system. Of course, the parties are free to avoid judicial involvement and divide or protect their assets on their own, but to do so requires cooperation.
This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax or legal advice.