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How is property divided in Missouri?

Missouri is not a community property state, so courts will follow the principles of equitable distribution when determining property division during divorce proceedings. When making this determination, a judge will consider several different factors including the value of the property, how much each spouse contributed to the purchase of the property and each spouse's economic circumstances.

Generally, all of the property that was acquired by either spouse during the course of a marriage is considered marital property. However, some property may be considered separate property and thus not subject to division. Separate property could be property that one spouse acquired prior to the marriage or property that one spouse received through an inheritance during the marriage. Property may also remain exempt from property division through a written declaration like a prenuptial agreement.

Even if non-marital property was commingled with marital property, it will retain its status as separate property as long as it can be traced. If a spouse commingled inherited property with marital property but failed to keep proof of the transaction, a judge will assume that the property is marital property. In other words, a spouse who did not save a receipt after depositing an inheritance check into a joint bank account will likely not be able to retain the entire amount in the property division order.

Those who are going through a contested divorce could potentially lose some of their valuable assets in a property division order if they cannot prove their ownership of separate property. A family law attorney may be able to help a client in this situation to gather all of the appropriate evidence to establish the origin of certain assets.

Source: Findlaw, "Missouri Marital Property Laws", December 04, 2014

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