Property division can be one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process, especially if property gets commingled. When it comes time to divide your property in a divorce, you have two options: reach a property agreement with your spouse or let a judge decide for you. Today, we discuss the basic of property division in Missouri and what you need to know about the process.
How Will the Court Divide Property in a Missouri Divorce?
Missouri is an equitable distribution state, meaning the court will divide property in a manner it deems fair, but not necessarily equal. When determining equitable distribution, the court will consider the following factors:
- Each spouse's earning potential, income, and other relevant financial factors
- Each individual's contribution to property/properties
- Value of either spouse's separate property
- Each spouse's behavior during marriage
- Custodial arrangements for children
The court will make a determination based off these factors and issue a property settlement that is fair or equitable.
How to Resolve a Property Division Issue Outside of Court
If you and your spouse would like to keep your personal disputes private and stay out of court, you can come to an agreement yourselves. It is encouraged to consult with an experienced lawyer and also involve a mediator to assist with any dispute resolution. Working with your spouse to create an agreement means you will both be able to speak up and share information about which property you would like and which property you would be willing to give to your spouse. You are more likely to feel better with this resolution as you both have a say in the final agreement; however, this is not always the best option for all couples. If it is impossible to work with your spouse to reach an agreement, then it would make more sense for you to have the court intervene.
How Does Missouri Determine Separate and Martial Property?
Separate property is property you acquired before marriage without any financial contribution from your spouse. If you can prove this, the judge will award this property to you. However, if you own any separate property that appreciated in value due to your spouse's financial help, then your spouse is entitled to a portion of this property as well.
Marital property is property acquired after marriage, which is subject to equitable distribution. When it comes time for the judge to determine what is considered marital property, he/she will look at who paid for the property and whether one spouse made any contributions to separate property.
If you require legal help as you navigate property division during your divorce, contact us online for assistance.