When a Missouri couple decides to move forward with the end of a marriage, property division is frequently one of the most contentious issues that they must face. As rife for dispute the disposition of property is and how it is decided who will get what, there are laws as to how property and debts are handled in a divorce. Understanding what factors will be considered is a foundational aspect of dealing with the case.

When the couple is divorcing, the court will determine what is marital property and what is non-marital property. The same holds true for debts. The non-marital property will belong to the spouse who had it prior to the marriage or has a right to it based on it being non-marital property. The economic situations of the spouses when the property will be divided – including who wants the family home and will live there – will be weighed. The contributions from the spouses as to the marital property being acquired will be gauged and this will include contributions if one of the spouses was a homemaker. The value of the non-marital property will be set apart to the spouses. The court will consider the conduct of both parties while they were married. And the custodial arrangements, if there are minor children, will be factored in.

Property that was acquired by either one of the spouses during the marriage will be viewed as marital property except in the following cases: if it was a gift, was acquired by bequest, by devise or as a descendent; if it was exchanged for property that had been acquired before the marriage or for property that was acquired in the previously mentioned “gift” context; if it was acquired by one of the spouses after there was a legal separation; if there was a written agreement to exclude the property; and if there was an increase in the value of the property acquired before the marriage.

There are other factors that should be considered such as non-marital property commingling with marital property. If there were items that were acquired by either of the spouses after the marriage and before there was a legal separation or a dissolution will be considered marital property except in the above situations. When a Missouri couple divorces, it is critical to remember how property division is handled. A legal professional experienced in all areas of divorce can help sift through the marital and non-marital property as well as understanding the inevitable nuance in a case. This is the first call to make when divorcing and facing concerns about property.

Source: revisor.mo.gov, “452.330. Disposition of property and debts, factors to be considered.,” accessed on May 17, 2018