If you are getting divorced, dividing your marital property is often one of the most time-consuming aspects of the process. Asset division only becomes more complicated if you have been married for a significant amount of time, have substantial wealth, or have complex finances. Because of this, working with an attorney that has a deep knowledge of asset valuation, taxation, and other relevant issues is critical.
At Jones Family Law Group, LLC, we understand that distributing your belongings can provoke strong emotions and create significant stress. When working with one of our seasoned family law attorneys, you will not only have skilled representation by your side, but an advocate and supporter. Let us help ensure that your assets are divided fairly so you can quickly and confidently move on to the next chapter of your life. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation with a Des Peres asset division lawyer.
Distinguishing Separate and Marital Property in Des Peres
Missouri law recognizes that married people have both separate (i.e. non-marital) and marital property. When a couple divorces, one of their tasks is to list the separate property that they will keep, and their marital property to divide.
Anything either of you owned before marriage is separate property. Real estate, cars, bank accounts, stocks, businesses or professional practices, and anything else that belonged solely to one of you before marriage remains that person’s property.
Some property acquired during the marriage is also separate property. Gifts to one spouse and inheritances belong to the recipient only. Spouses have no rights to the other’s separate property.
An issue that frequently comes up when a spouse makes a claim of separate or non-marital property is when the property or asset owned before marriage changes or is re-titled after the marriage. Sometimes significant investments are made during the marriage to pre-marital property. For example, if you had a 401k plan before marriage, the plan’s value and assets at the time of the marriage is yours alone. However, any contributions you made during your marriage are marital property, and your spouse may have a claim on those contributions.
Addressing these complex asset divisions require experience and expertise. The attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC can help you navigate these complicated property issues.
Anything you or your spouse acquired during your marriage is presumed to be marital property. It does not matter who paid for it or whose name is on the deed or title—if it was acquired during the marriage, it is marital property.
As an asset division attorney can further explain, sometimes separate property can inadvertently become marital property. For example, if your spouse owned a condo before marriage and kept it while married, the condo may remain their separate property. However, if the condo was rented, the rental income or paydown of the mortgage is likely marital property. As a result, you might have a claim to some of the condo’s value.
Affect of Marital Agreements
One of the benefits of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is that it can establish which property the couple agrees is considered separate property. Referring to the example above, if you had a written marital agreement with your spouse declaring the condo was their property, you would not have an interest in it even if your salary contributed to the mortgage.
Courts will uphold marital agreements if they are written and signed by the parties, both parties enter it freely with full disclosure and without coercion, and the agreement does not overwhelmingly favor one party at the expense of the other. These agreements need not treat each spouse equally, but the spouse giving up rights should get something of value in return. You should consult an attorney about the enforceability of your marital agreement.
The Law Requires a Fair Division of Marital Property
The law calls for the equitable distribution of marital property, but it also requires the court to set aside any separate property to the owner of that property. You must divide marital property fairly, but not necessarily equally. Spouses who can work together to achieve a just property division arrangement retain control over the process and usually develop an agreement that both spouses can live with.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your assets, a judge must decide. Missouri Revised Statute §452.330 requires a judge to consider the following when making an asset division determination:
- How long you have been married
- Whether you are providing a home for the children of the marriage post-marriage
- You and your spouse’s conduct: for example, if one spouse gambled marital assets or spent them on a love interest, the judge might award the other spouse a larger share or make that spouse whole
- You and your spouse’s contributions to the marriage and its accumulated assets
- You and your spouse’s financial situations, including the value of your separate property and your ability to make a living
The judge could consider any other factors they deem relevant to dividing assets in your specific case.
Practical considerations often influence the judge’s decision, especially if there are minor children. A judge might award the family home to the parent with primary residential custody to provide stability for the children or keep children in their school district. That might mean the other parent gets to keep other marital assets of similar value. If you have further questions about what a judge might consider when making a decision in your case, you should speak with an asset division attorney serving Des Peres.
Work With a Des Peres Asset Division Attorney to Partition Your Marital Assets
If you plan to get divorced, it is imperative to understand your rights to marital property. A Des Peres asset division lawyer from our firm could explain the law and how it might apply in your unique circumstances.
Go into your divorce well-informed and prepared to secure the property that is rightfully yours. Contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC today to schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable legal professional.