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What factors can influence property division in a Missouri divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Property Division |

Many people worry about the economic impacts of divorce proceedings. They know that the divorce itself can cost money and also that they have to share their property with their spouse. Unless someone has an airtight marital agreement, income, debts and other resources accumulated during the marriage are at risk of division when they divorce.

Couples either find ways to negotiate arrangements with each other to share their property or they prepare to litigate. During contested divorces, Missouri family law judges interpret state law to resolve disagreements between the spouses. The equitable distribution statute in Missouri (understandably) confuses many people.

What guides a judge’s decision when they try to divide marital property during a litigated divorce?

Economic factors are a top consideration

Missouri law includes five specific details that judges generally need to review when applying equitable distribution rules to a marital estate. The first is the economic circumstances of the spouses. Their income and earning potential can have a major influence on what property division terms are reasonable and fair.

Each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate, including the work of a spouse staying home, the value of each spouse’s separate property and also custody arrangements can influence a judge’s determination about property division. Judges also consider the impact each spouse’s conduct has had on the marriage and any other factors they deem relevant.

Judges have the authority to award assets or debts to either spouse. They can also instruct the spouses to sell certain assets and share the proceeds in some cases. The judge attempts to find solutions for property division that are fair and equitable.

Predicting property division is tricky

Given how much is left to the interpretation of a judge, spouses preparing for divorce may struggle to guess what might occur with specific resources or with the marital estate overall. Those with complex holdings, including real estate and family businesses, may need to secure particular terms during property division proceedings.

Utilizing a cooperative approach to property division can be beneficial for those who absolutely require certain terms in an upcoming Missouri divorce. Spouses who understand the requirements of Missouri state statutes may be able to more effectively negotiate or prepare for court than those who are unfamiliar with the law.

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