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What is the Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Missouri?

What is the Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Missouri?A wife in a Missouri divorce is entitled to what the court finds fair after it considers a number of things. There is no automatic grant of a certain amount or percentage of a divorcing couple’s property. Let’s explain.

It is a persisting misconception that a wife automatically gets the better outcome in a divorce. In Missouri, this is a myth because both husband and wife have equal legal standing in divorce matters such as property division. Further, Missouri is an “equitable distribution” state, which means the court aims to divide property in a manner that’s fair for both parties.

Let’s see how property division works in the state experienced divorce attorney if you have concerns about your particular situation.

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Missouri Divorce?

During a Missouri divorce, the wife is entitled to a fair share of marital property. This commonly includes the marital home, car, savings, retirement account, business interests, and valuable household items. The court looks into various factors during property division to ensure that the distribution of property is equitable (we talk more about this in a section below).

Note that only “marital property” can be divided during divorce. Each spouse gets to keep their own non-marital “separate property.” Missouri law defines marital property as all assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage, except:

  • Gifts that only one spouse received
  • Inheritance of either spouse
  • Property that either spouse acquired during legal separation
  • Property specifically excluded by a valid written agreement
  • Increase in valuation of either spouse’s separate property, unless this increase comes from the other spouse’s contribution.

These exceptions are included in either spouse’s separate property, which will not be divided during divorce. Separate property also includes any asset that either spouse acquired prior to the marriage.

When the Wife Could Be Entitled to the Husband’s Property (and Vice Versa)

In certain situations, either spouse’s separate property could get “commingled” or blended with marital property, exposing it to property division.

An example is when one spouse deposits their own inheritance money into a joint bank account shared by the couple. Another example: an unmarried person uses their own money as downpayment on a house, then later pays the monthly mortgage using marital income after getting married.

Unless the spouses untangle the commingled property, it can turn into marital property and be divisible during divorce. It’s best to get the guidance of a divorce attorney when sorting out blended property, such as by tracing funds back to the original deposits.

How Missouri Divides Marital Property During Divorce

There are two ways to split marital property in Missouri. The more ideal method is for both spouses to create a property agreement specifying what each spouse will get after divorce. This method allows them to be flexible and in control of the distribution, as long as they can be amicable towards each other.

The other way is to let the judge divide the marital property. Because Missouri follows equitable distribution, the judge doesn’t automatically split the property 50-50. Instead, they have to determine a fair way to distribute the assets, taking into account the following factors:

  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances, including their financial status, ability to earn, and future employment prospects
  • Each spouse’s contribution in acquiring the marital property (homemaking contribution is part of this)
  • The value of each spouse’s non-marital (separate) property
  • Each spouse’s conduct during marriage (if, for instance, one spouse squandered marital funds, the court may reduce that spouse’s divorce share)
  • Any custodial arrangements for minor children.

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to divide marital property. In fact, many divorce cases can get muddled with issues like property commingling. It’s crucial for each spouse to understand their rights and entitlements in their specific circumstances. Whether you’re dividing marital property by agreement or through the court, it’s best to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you secure what you’re entitled to.

Contact a Divorce Attorney at Shea Kohl Law

With more than 100 years of combined experience, our divorce lawyers at Shea Kohl Law are highly trusted in St. Charles and surrounding cities in Missouri. We provide smart legal advice and strong representation in divorce matters like property division

Call Shea Kohl Law at (636) 946-9999 to schedule your confidential consultation.

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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.