One of the most complex issues in many divorces is dividing marital property. Although the law does not require a 50/50 split, the division of assets between you and your spouse should be fair under the circumstances. Deciding what is fair can sometimes be challenging, but an experienced family law attorney at Jones Family Law Group, LLC is here to assist.
A Ballwin property division lawyer from our firm could help you understand what the law requires when it comes to dividing assets so you can protect yourself and your property. Although property division negotiations are rarely straightforward, with seasoned legal support, you and your spouse could emerge from your marriage with a settlement you are both happy with. Contact our firm today to discuss your unique situation with a compassionate attorney.
Understanding Marital Property vs. Separate Property in Ballwin
The only property that gets divided in a divorce is marital property. You and your spouse must divide marital property fairly, but not necessarily equally.
Deciding whether something is marital or separate property can get very complicated, making it vital to enlist the help of a seasoned property division attorney if you run into trouble.
Anything you owned before you got married is your non-marital or separate property. Any gift that someone gave to you alone is also non-marital or seperate property. Everything you inherit is yours, even if you were married when you inherited it.
However, the way you treat your non-marital or separate property during the marriage matters. If you add your spouses name to the account or title to non-marital property, it might become marital property. For example, if you owned a home before you got married and added your spouse’s name to the title when refinancing, your spouse likely has a marital interest in it. If your spouse inherited a home during your marriage and your added your spouse’s name to the title for estate planning purposes, they may have a marital interest in that home.
Marital property is everything either spouse acquired during the marriage, except through inheritance or gift, as explained above. It does not matter if only one spouse’s name is on the registration or title—if a spouse acquired it during the marriage, it belongs to both spouses as marital property.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Simplify Property Division—or Not
Some couples enter into prenuptial agreements that describe how they will divide their property in the event of a divorce. These agreements could identify property each spouse claims as separate and determine how the couple will divide their marital assets and debts in a divorce.
Courts in Missouri typically honor prenuptial agreements if they comply with basic requirements. They must be in writing and signed by each party after each party fully discloses their holdings, assets and income. Each party must have had access to an independent lawyer before signing, and there must have been no special pressure on either party to sign. The agreement must not be grossly unfair.
It often happens that a prenuptial agreement that seemed fair when the couple signed it seems unfair when they divorce. Maybe a particular asset that one party segregated as non-marital property has seen a tremendous increase in value, or maybe a lump sum payment that seemed generous at the time now seems paltry. Spouses can challenge prenuptial agreements, and sometimes a court will void them. Talk to an attorney serving Ballwin about whether your prenuptial agreement is likely to survive a challenge over property division.
Find a Way to Agree, If Possible
Missouri Revised Statute §452.330 requires divorcing couples to divide their marital property equitably or fairly. The division does not have to be exactly equal to be equitable. Factors like each spouse’s earning power, how much each contributed to the marriage financially and through services, and who is the children’s primary caretaker all make a difference when deciding what is fair.
Although dividing property can trigger hot emotions, giving your best efforts to negotiations is worthwhile. You will have ample opportunities to negotiate your property settlement during the divorce proceedings. If the judge ends up dividing your property, you and your spouse are both likely to be disappointed.
A Ballwin property division attorney at our firm will take the time to understand your goals in the divorce, including what property is most important to you and what you do not mind giving up. The attorney could work with your spouse’s attorney to find a solution that is fair. If that does not work or if you and your spouse prefer, mediation could help you find a resolution.
Let a Ballwin Property Division Attorney from Our Firm Help
Separating property is often an emotionally triggering part of a divorce and can be hard to manage alone. You need a capable attorney on your side to help you determine what is fair and protect the property you rightfully own.
At Jones Family Law Group, LLC, our Ballwin property division lawyers will do everything they can to ensure you can move forward into the next phase of life with a sense of security and confidence. We are here for you. Schedule a case review with a compassionate legal professional today.