A home is a substantial asset. If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, one of the tasks in the divorce proceedings will be to decide who gets the house. Missouri is an equitable distribution state when it comes to property division. This means that the family court divides property in an equitable way – a way they determine is fair, not necessarily an even split.
You and your spouse may be on amicable terms or your divorce may be hotly contested. Property division can be a challenge regardless of the circumstances.
Under Missouri distribution law, some property is deemed separate and other marital. Separate property is that property owned solely by one spouse prior to the marriage, acquired by gift, or inherited (usually), while marital property is property purchased during marriage. In many cases, houses are considered marital property, regardless of which spouse’s income is primarily responsible for paying the mortgage, or which spouses name is on the Title/Loan.
Property division cases should be handled outside of court if at all possible. Approximately 95% of all divorce cases settle outside of court. This is because court battles can be long, drawn out, and emotionally draining – not to mention that the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the judge.
Missouri’s laws on property division are detailed in § 452.330 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. The codes specifically cite five major factors that the courts consider when deciding who gets what property and debts.
(1) The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children;
(2) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(3) The value of the nonmarital property set apart to each spouse;
(4) The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and
(5) Custodial arrangements for minor children.
If you and your spouse are divorcing, make sure that you get a fair property division agreement. If you have questions about your marital home and need to retain an attorney to represent you during the divorce proceedings, we invite you to contact a St. Louis divorce lawyer at The Buxner Law Firm.