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Missouri Property Division Factors

In Missouri, the property and debt issues are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or the property award is actually order and decreed by the Circuit Court within the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

Missouri is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the Circuit Court will take the following approach to dividing the assets; First, it will go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt is to be considered marital. Next, it will assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt. Last, it will distribute the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is deemed by the Circuit Court to be fair.

The court shall considering all relevant factors including: (1) The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children; (2) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (3) The value of the nonmarital property set apart to each spouse; (4) The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and (5) Custodial arrangements for minor children.

Marital Property can be defined as all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except: (1) Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (2) Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (3) Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; (4) Property excluded by valid written agreement of the parties; and (5) The increase in value of property acquired prior to the marriage , unless marital assets including labor, have contributed to such increases and then only to the extent of such contributions. (Missouri Statutes - Title 30 - Chapter 452 - Sections: 330)

Since Missouri is an "Equitable Distribution" state, all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses. What does "equitable" mean? Equitable can be defined as "what is fair, not necessarily equal." To automatically believe the marital property would be divided 50-50 would be a wrong assumption in any equitable distribution state. You can also read more about Missouri property division in the Missouri state statutes located at: http://www.moga.state.mo.us/.