Protecting your rights when going through a divorce includes familiarizing yourself with Missouri’s marital property laws and consulting with an experienced family law attorney. A general summary of property division between spouses in a Missouri divorce is outlined in this article.
Types of Property to Consider in Divorce
There are two types of property (assets) to consider for division in a divorce: Real Property (e.g. home, land) and Personal Property (e.g. bank accounts, cars, cash, clothing, investments, jewelry).
Both real and personal property are categorized as either marital or non-marital property in a divorce because Missouri is a “dual-property” state. Family law courts do not have the power to divide non-marital property.
Any type of property acquired by either spouse during their marriage is assumed marital property unless otherwise proved that it is non-marital (separate) property, regardless of which spouse’s name is on the title.
According to Missouri Statutes , Title 30, Chapter 452, Section 330, marital property is defined as all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except:
- Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;
- Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;
- Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation;
- Property excluded by valid written agreement of the parties; and
- The increase in value of property acquired prior to the marriage or pursuant to subdivisions (1) to (4) of this subsection, unless marital assets including labor, have contributed to such increases and then only to the extent of such contributions.
Non-marital (separate) property belongs to only one spouse, it is not divided up during a divorce and it remains with the acquiring spouse after the divorce.
Commingled property is when non-marital property is blended with marital property. The commingling of properties does not make the non-marital property become marital property; however, it must be proven which portion of the property is non-marital and which portion is marital.
Proving Non-Martial Property is Separate Property
Property is awarded as separate property (non-marital) using a principle called “the source of funds rule.” This means the court examines who paid for the property and how they paid for the property to determine how to equitably divide the property.
Property Division Factors
The Missouri courts generally accept a fair and reasonable property division agreed upon between spouses. In cases where the spouses are unable to reach an agreement outside of the court, the judge will determine the appropriate division of the marital property using an equitable distribution method.
Equitable Distribution Method to Divide Property
The court will divide marital property in a method they believe is fair (equitable), but not necessarily equal. This means that each spouse may not receive an equal 50% share of the marital assets as long as the division is considered reasonable and fair.
Division of Marital Home Equity
Once the Marital home is assessed to determine equity to be divided, the spouses must determine how to divide the equity using one of the three following options:
- One spouse may refinance the marital home and buy out the other spouse.
- Sell the marital home and divide the proceeds.
- One spouse remains in the home with the exclusive use and possession for a specified period.
Division of Pensions and Retirement Accounts
Both vested and non-vested pensions are considered marital property.
Call Day or Night for an Experienced Property Division Attorney
If you have any questions about property division law in Missouri, contact attorney Chris Benjamin at KC Road Lawyers by calling 816-738-5725 or navigating to our contact page for a consultation at the firm’s Belton or Butler Missouri offices.