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Home > Family Law Guide > Dividing Marital Property


The division of marital property is a critical part of the divorce action. The division of property will determine both the dollar value of the assets you receive from the divorce, as well as the specific items of personal and real property you retain. Following a divorce, spouses often must purchase a residence or rent an apartment, buy new household items such as furniture, pots, pans, etc., and replenish savings and retirement accounts. The dollar value of property you receive is critical to your ability to financially move forward from the divorce. You will also want to receive assets that leave you financially capable of providing for your children and enjoying vacations and other recreational activities. You may also have particular items of property that are meaningful to you that you want to retain following the divorce. All of these issues must be clearly addressed in the division of property.

The division of property involves many complex valuation and tax issues. If you have substantial assets, or if you own a business or other income generating assets that involve complex valuation issues, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.

We address many commonly asked questions below. If you have any questions, CALL US TODAY AT (314)726-6464 AND WE WILL MEET WITH YOU AT NO CHARGE TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE.

How should the property be divided? Should it be divided 50/50?

The Missouri statute does not state that property shall be divided equally. In Missouri, the property is divided "equitably". The court takes into account several factors:

  • Economic circumstances of the parties.
  • Contribution of each spouse to acquisition of the property.
  • The value of each person's non-marital property.
  • Conduct of the parties during the marriage.
  • Additional needs of the parties if they are awarded custody of the children.

As a practical matter, many judges start out with an assumption that property should be divided equally and may make adjustments based upon the factors described above.

What is the difference between "marital" property and "non-marital" property?

Marital property is any property acquired during the marriage unless it fits into one of the categories of non-marital property. Non-marital property is:

  • Property owned by one spouse before the marriage, however, this property can be converted into marital property under a number of circumstances.
  • Property that one spouse receives by gift, inheritance or exchange of non-marital property for other property.

"Non-marital" property can become marital property by:

  • Using it as marital property - especially a residence.
  • Using marital funds to improve property - typically a residence.
  • Pledging the non-marital property for marital debts.
  • Conveying the non-marital property to your spouse or commingling the non-marital property with marital property.

Are my pension and retirement accounts marital property?

Any property you acquire during the marriage, including the value added to your pension and retirement accounts, may be marital property. If you had the pension or retirement account before the marriage, it is possible that only a part of the pension is marital property. The court will often use an equation to figure out what part of it is marital property.

If you want to keep all of your pension and/or retirement accounts, then the court can award you the entire pension and offset the value against your "equitable" share of the property.


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