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Understand the division of retirement assets in Missouri divorces

The financial aspects of a divorce can become complicated and rather confusing. If you are going through a divorce, you should get to know Missouri’s marital property laws to protect your rights.

Missouri is a “dual-property” state, which divides property into two categories for divorce purposes – “marital property” and “non-marital property.” It is important to make the distinction between these two categories because family law courts only have the power to divide your marital assets.

How will we divide our retirement benefits?

Marital property may include pension and retirement benefits to the extent of the funds accumulated during the marriage. A 401k, for example, would likely be separate property if the contribution of funds increased before marriage. Anything after the marriage would put the 401k on the table in marital property. 

An equitable distribution does not necessarily amount to an equal distribution. While it may sound like this is a division right down the middle, this is not always the case. The court and your attorneys will attempt to divide the assets as fair as possible.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order

A QDRO is a court order regarding the division of retirement plan benefits. This properly protects your interests when sophisticated assets are involved. QDROs recognize the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable under the retirement plan. They require an attorney’s guidance to effectively transfer an interest in a qualified retirement plan.

Is infidelity taken into consideration?

Missouri does not take martial misconduct into consideration during the division of assets. Missouri is a pure no-fault state and you cannot file for divorce on fault grounds. If one spouse ran the martial assets to the ground, let’s say in gambling debt, the judge may grant the other spouse compensation. This compensation may be in the form of additional property because they had a right to the portion lost.

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