When couples go their separate ways, they don’t always get divorced immediately. They may choose to take some time to consider whether divorce is what they want, whereas others simply don’t get around to it. However, if they do eventually decide to divorce, their separation can have an effect on how their marital property is distributed. Couples in Missouri should keep this in mind if they plan to spend some time apart before filing for divorce.
In Indiana, an interesting situation arose when a couple who had been apart for six years came into dispute over a lottery win. The couple had separated in 2006 after four years of marriage, but had not divorced. They barely contacted each other, kept their finances apart and lived apparently wholly separate lives. However, when the husband won $2 million in 2012, his estranged wife demanded a share.
In many divorce cases, assets acquired during the marriage are assumed to be split equally between the two partners. However, this case was different as the couple had lived so independently for six years. Furthermore, the wife had taken the majority of the couple’s possessions when they separated.
A lower court had ruled that for the next five years, the husband must pay his ex-wife $10,000 per year. This amounts to a mere 2.5 percent of his winnings, far short of the $1.4 million she had requested. The wife appealed the decision, but it was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals in a recent ruling.
Reaching a decision on these types of disputes can be challenging, and the outcomes often vary from one case to the next. Nevertheless, although it happened in another state, this case is an example to couples in Missouri of the types of factors that can affect the division of marital property. If you and your partner are planning a fresh start, an attorney may be able to help you reach an agreement that is fair and favorable to you both.
Source: USA Today, “$2 million lottery winner has to give ex-wife $50,000,” Tim Evans, April 23, 2014