Is Missouri a Community Property or Equitable Distribution State?

If you’re worried about how your property will be divided during a divorce, contact our St. Charles divorce attorneys at Smith Law Offices, LLC. We have more than 20 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. State laws are particular about the terms of divorces, so make sure you understand how your divorce will work in the state of Missouri.

Property Division Missouri

How Property is Divided After a Divorce in Missouri

Each state differs in how it divides the property between two divorcing individuals. Missouri happens to be a dual-property state, meaning property can either be marital or non-marital. It is also an equitable distribution state, meaning if the property must be divided, it is split equitably between the spouses. However, Missouri is not a community property state, which generally has more complicated property division rules.

What Is Considered Marital Property?

Marital property is anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage or which they shared. Missouri law makes the assumption all property is marital unless a spouse can prove an asset is non-marital. Non-marital, or separate, property is everything the spouses didn’t share during the marriage and belonged to one spouse only. For example, if one of the spouses brought a car into the marriage, that car is a non-marital asset.

If you and your spouse can’t agree on how to separate your assets, a judge will divide marital property equitably between the couple. Equitable distribution means judges will divide the property in a way that is fair, though not necessarily equal. The court will take into account each spouse’s economic circumstances, how much each spouse contributed to the acquisition of property, the value of each spouse’s non-marital property, the spouse’s behavior during the marriage, and custodial arrangements if the couple has children.

In states where community property rules, couples can opt into the community property system by signing an agreement designating specific assets as community property. For example, money earned by either spouse during marriage and goods bought with those earnings are community property. If one spouse dies, the other will get his or her half of the community property unless the deceased left a will that indicated otherwise. However, Missouri is not a community property state.

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