How does Missouri divide property in a divorce?

Divorce comes with a long and unpleasant to-do list. At the top of the list is probably figuring out child custody. After dividing your parenting time with your ex, you next have to worry about the division of your property.

You may wonder what exactly this entails and which assets you should fight for. Although much of it depends on your personal circumstances, understanding the basics of Missouri law is a good place to start.

What is marital property?

Marital property is any that you have acquired during the marriage, with the exception of gifts and inheritances. Anything you owned beforehand is solely yours unless the labor of your spouse helped it to increase in value. You may have additional outlines concerning ownership and divorce in any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements you signed.

Most assets eligible for distribution are obvious, such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts and retirement plans. The following lesser-known assets also qualify:

  • Antiques, art and collectibles
  • Equipment and tools
  • Firearms
  • Interest
  • Investments and other securities
  • Life insurance policies

In addition, you each will receive a portion of your debts. This includes both debts you owe and debts others owe to you.

How much does each person get?

Missouri is an equitable distribution state, which means that division will be fair but not exactly equal. Factors that influence how much each spouse gets include individual income, economic contributions, value of nonmarital property and child custody arrangements. Misconduct plays a role in the court's decision as well. Assets may undergo professional valuation to ensure equitable distribution.

Another factor in what you get in the divorce is the attorney you have. A persistent lawyer can help you obtain the property that is important to you and retain that which is rightfully yours. Your attorney may also advise you on alternative solutions to property division, such as sacrificing one asset to gain another.

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