St. Louis Property Division Lawyers
Division of Marital Property & Divorce
Almost all divorcing couples have at least some property to divide at the end of a marriage. People who have accumulated significant marital assets, especially intangible financial assets, may feel overwhelmed by the rules and regulations on dividing their own money. And because the division of marital assets includes any debt the parties may have incurred, the process of dividing property can be contentious and full of hazards.
Missouri is an “equitable distribution” state, which means divorcing people are legally required to divide the marital assets in an equitable manner. But equitable doesn’t necessarily mean “equal”; it means “fair.” For example, someone who didn’t work during the marriage, but contributed substantially to the other person’s ability to work by caring for the home and children, could legally be granted half of the marital assets under this system. To decide how property is divided, the law takes into account each person’s financial resources (including any maintenance payments), how much each contributed to the marital assets, the needs of any children and their custodial parent, and the parties’ behavior during the marriage.
It’s ultimately up to a judge to decide what’s fair in each individual divorce. If both parties agree in writing on how to divide assets and debts, the judge in your case will probably approve it. If you can’t agree, you’ll probably need a judge or mediator to help decide what’s fair.
Importantly, it’s likely that not all of your property is part of the marital assets; some will count as “separate property.” Property that counts as separate in Missouri includes anything that:
- You acquired before the marriage.
- You acquired after you were legally separated.
- Was a gift or bequest to you alone, rather than to both people. This includes gifts from one spouse to the other, even if they were bought with both people’s money.
- Was acquired during the marriage in exchange for something that was yours alone.
- You have both agreed in writing (before, during or after the marriage) should be treated as separate property.
If you invested in something before the marriage and its value increased during the marriage, you also own the increase in value, unless your former spouse contributed to that increase. For example, if a relative left you a home, you own the home and any increase in its value, but if your former spouse helped you clean and improve the home, he or she owns part of the increase in its value. In some cases, property can be partly marital and partly separate.
If you have investments, a business or other financial assets or debts, dividing your property may literally require an expert. SEC regulations, tax consequences and other financial laws can make dividing up assets frustrating or even change your mind. Thanks to long experience with divorces, St. Louis property division lawyer Tonya D. Page can spot those situations and call on tax, securities or other financial-planning experts to help. With the help of an expert eye, she can negotiate or litigate a division of property that’s as fair as possible to all family members.
Dealing with money can be stressful even under normal circumstances. When you’re also dealing with a divorce, it’s important to have a sympathetic advocate by your side. Tonya D. Page has handled divorces throughout her legal career, including contentious divorces that wound up in appellate court. She understands the challenges her clients are facing, and she’s committed to helping them resolve those challenges in the best way possible. For a free, confidential discussion of your divorce options, call Page Law today.