Dividing Property in a Missouri Divorce Case
Division of marital property is an important consideration in St. Louis divorce cases. Property division is a tangible aspect of asset division, however, if it is not handled properly, it can result in disputes and disagreements, prolonging the divorce process and increasing the stress for both parties involved. In Missouri, there are certain set procedures and processes that dictate distribution of marital property. Our St. Louis divorce lawyer elaborates this in detail.
The state of Missouri follows an equitable distribution policy, meaning the Missouri court distributes property in an equitable or a fair manner between the spouses. This however, does not indicate that the division will be equal.
The Missouri court requires the spouses to file a separation agreement that includes a written explanation of the property division. The court only steps in if the couple is not able to agree or is unwilling to come to terms on the matter of property division. The court can also step in if the division of property seems obviously unfair to one spouse. The court thus divides any asset in an equitable manner.
Division of only marital property
When it comes to division of the property, the Missouri court will essentially divide only marital property. Marital property is defined as all the property that has been acquired or earned during the marriage. Property that has been acquired or earned before the marriage, including inheritances, gifted property during marriage is often termed as non-marital property. Therefore the court needs to know how much of the property is jointly owned and owned separately by the spouses.
Moreover, any increase in value of any property can also be considered as non-marital property. However, if the increase in value is attributed to efforts made by the couple during marriage, then that increased value will also be considered as marital property and will be subject to division. The Missouri court will, unless proven by valid and relevant documented proof, assume all property as marital property in a divorce case.
When it comes to debts and other liabilities, they are also divided in the same manner the tangible assets like real estate, jewellery, etc., or intangible property like benefits, income, pension and dividends are divided. The same procedure of determining debts as marital or non-marital according to when it was acquired, who acquired it, etc. is applied while dividing debts equitably.
What factors determine division?
Division of property is determined by certain factors. These are –
- Economic condition and circumstances of each spouse
- Arrangement of child custody
- The right of the spouse with child custody to receive or live in the family home.
- The amount of non-marital property each has and the contribution made to marital property.
- Conduct of the spouses during the marriage
All these factors are taken into consideration to determine equitable division.
Alimony or spousal support is generally awarded by the court only if the recipient spouse lacks sufficient property (that includes the spouse’s share of divided property) to meet reasonable needs, is unable to support oneself through employment, or has custody of the child, which restricts employment outside the home. These maintenance payments are awarded by the court after reviewing finances, debts, comparative earnings of the spouses, material standard of living, age of the spouses, age of the marriage and health. All these are, like other property division, subject to equitable distribution.
If you need more information about property division in a Missouri divorce, get in touch with an experienced St. Louis family law attorney at The Betz Law Firm. Call (314) 801-8488.
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