Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, and what that means is that the court doesn’t typically take into account some sort of marital misconduct in rendering a decision. Often folks will come in and want to spend a good deal of time talking about what led to a breakdown in the marriage. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you just need to understand that the court is not going to start pointing fingers.
There are exceptions to that, however. For example, if your marriage broke down as a result of let’s say, alcoholism on the part of your spouse and you have children, certainly the court is going to take into account the fact that your spouse may be an alcoholic in determining what’s best for the children. On the other hand, the court probably is not going to take the alcohol abuse into account as part of the financial outcome in your matter.
As another example, if one of the litigants has a gambling problem, let’s say. That’s a fault that gambling addiction is probably not going to play a role in the outcome in terms of custody or parenting time, but it may play a role in the ultimate outcome on the financial issues.
There are cases that have been decided by appellate courts that would suggest that if one spouse has dwindled down the marital estate as a result of a gambling addiction, that the gambling losses can be attributed to that spouse. Even though we are a no-fault divorce state, there are some creative ways, more or less to let fault creep into your case if it’s appropriate.