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Missouri Marital Property Laws

In Missouri, all property a couple acquires during marriage becomes marital property. Like most states, Missouri is an equitable distribution state. Missouri law presumes that all property acquired during a marriage belongs to both spouses. Courts divide marital property fairly between spouses during a divorce or legal separation. Equitable property division applies to debt as well as assets.

A few states, such as California and Texas, are community property states. In these states, judges divide marital property 50/50 during a divorce or legal separation.

Couples can handle the division of property before their divorce with a prenuptial agreement or other valid written agreement. If the couple can’t agree on the property arrangement, the judge will divide the property during the dissolution of the marriage.

Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, court rulings (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. FindLaw strives to provide the most current information available. You should consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) before making any legal decisions.

Marital Property vs. Separate Property

Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage. The marital home is marital property, even if only one spouse’s name is on the title. Other things that are marital property in Missouri include:

  • Wages and income earned by either spouse

  • Pension plans and retirement accounts that accrue during the marriage

  • Increases in the value of any separate property if it’s due to the efforts of either spouse

  • Personal property (real estate or vehicles) acquired during the marriage

  • Marital debts

Separate property, or non-marital property, is all property acquired before the marriage and kept apart from the marital estate. Separate property isn’t divided during divorce proceedings. It usually includes:

  • Wills, inheritances, and gifts to one party

  • Property acquired through trade or exchange of separate property

  • Property acquired after a legal separation before a divorce decree

  • Property excluded by a prenuptial agreement

  • Increase in value to any separate property unless marital assets or efforts increased the value

Commingling of assets can occur if one spouse’s non-marital property becomes a marital asset. For instance, if one spouse places an inheritance in a joint bank account, it may become marital property unless spouses keep a close accounting of the money.

Missouri Marital Property Laws

Missouri divorce law lets the judge consider all relevant factors when dividing marital property. The goal in a divorce is a “just” division rather than a 50/50 split of all property. Statutory factors may include the following:

  • Age and health of each party

  • Economic circumstances of each party, such as their education, employability, and work experience

  • Contribution of each party to the marriage, including as a homemaker or childcare

  • Child custody awards for minor children

  • Duration of the marriage

  • Conduct of the parties during marriage

In an equitable distribution state, property division is meant to be fair. Judges use discretion to ensure the distribution reflects each party’s needs and contribution to the marriage. If a property isn’t easy to divide, like the family home, a judge may grant it to the spouse with primary custody of the children. They would award the other spouse an equal amount of other property.

Missouri Marital Property Laws: Related Resources

Get Legal Advice From a Family Law Attorney

Marital property division causes a lot of friction in family court. Couples need a good divorce attorney to help navigate the marital property issue. Contact an experienced Missouri family law attorney to guide you through the divorce procedure.

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