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Who Gets the House in a Divorce in Missouri?
If you are in the middle of a divorce in Missouri, parting ways with your spouse amicably should be the ultimate goal. This includes knowing your rights before you begin dividing your property.
When you file for divorce, you are required by law to fill out several forms which include a statement of property and debt. These forms need to be completed and submitted even if you’ve already divided your property prior to filing for divorce. The court can’t finalize your divorce unless these documents are filled out completely and signed.
Types of property divided in a Missouri divorce
Divorcing couples need to address various issues, including how to divide their assets. Assets are made up of:
- real property such as land and homes
- personal property which include cars, cash, bank accounts, investments, clothing, furniture, jewelry, collectibles, and retirement benefits.
Property is further broken down into marital property and non-marital property for divorce purposes.
Marital property is defined as all the property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. It doesn’t matter whether the property is named to one spouse or both. The law assumes that a property is equally owned by both spouses if either of them acquired it after they were married.
Non-marital or separate property
Non-marital or separate property is something such as a car or jewelry that was acquired prior to the marriage and belongs to only to one spouse. The court cannot divide non-marital property as it stays with the spouse who owns it.
Separate property can be defined prior to marriage. A prenuptial agreement can be drawn which identifies what property is marital and what is separate. The terms of the agreement will be carried out if they decide to divorce. Property is also considered non-marital if it was acquired through inheritance or if a spouse receives it as a gift during the marriage.
Under Missouri law, a property is assumed marital unless one party can prove that it is non-marital. This applies to both real and personal property. Consult with an experienced family law attorney if you need help in identifying property in your divorce.
How do Missouri courts divide property?
There are two basic options to consider when dividing a property.
Reach an agreement with your spouse about property division
Working with your spouse reach a property agreement can give both of you control of your situation. By cooperating with each other, it is possible to reach a property agreement without court intervention. That’s a particularly good choice when you don’t have a lot of assets. Consult with a family law attorney, however, who will help you draft an agreement that ensures your rights are fully protected.
Let a judge decide a way to fairly divide property
Another option is to let a judge decide a way to divide the property. This only includes marital property. Non-marital property is not involved in the division.
Missouri is an “equitable distribution” state. The judge will only divide marital property in an equitable, but not necessarily equal, way. One spouse could get a bigger share of the marital assets than the other as long as the distribution is reasonable and fair.
Proving your property is non-marital
You must prove that a property like your house is non-marital if you want the judge to award it to you. If you can prove that you obtained an asset without a financial share from your spouse, you will be awarded your separate share. If you, however, own any non-marital property during your marriage which your spouse helped pay for, then your spouse will be awarded a share as well.
Contact a competent family law attorney
It is always helpful to discuss your legal options with a family law attorney. You need to be absolutely certain that you are making the right choices during this difficult period. Our experienced attorneys can help you get the share of property that you deserve in your divorce settlement.
Contact Shea Kohl Law, LC to discuss the facts of your case. Call us at (636) 946-9999 for a free consultation or email us through our online contact form.
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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.