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What constitutes marital property?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Divorce

Ending a marriage is more than just an emotional matter. Sorting out finances and dividing assets is a complex aspect of what can already be a difficult process.

Knowing what constitutes marital property is key when it comes to understanding the splitting of assets during a divorce.

Marital property

Marital property refers to assets and debts acquired during the course of a marriage. This typically includes earnings, real estate, personal property and even retirement benefits accumulated by either spouse during the marriage.

It is important to note that the emphasis is on the time of acquisition. Anything obtained before the marriage or after the divorce filing generally falls outside the realm of marital property.

Separate property

While marital property includes most assets accumulated during the marriage, separate property is exempt from the division process. Separate property comprises items owned by one spouse before marriage, gifts received individually, inheritances and personal injury awards that are specific to one spouse. It is helpful to gather records and documentation to distinguish between marital and separate property during the divorce proceedings.

Commingled assets

The mingling of separate and marital assets can complicate matters. For instance, if one spouse combines an inheritance with joint funds, determining the exact origin of the funds becomes challenging. Clear record-keeping and communication are necessary to avoid misunderstandings and facilitate a smoother division process.

Equitable distribution

Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital property. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal distribution, but rather a fair and just allocation based on various factors. These factors may include each spouse’s financial contributions, the length of the marriage and the economic circumstances of both parties.

Debt division

In addition to assets, debts incurred during the marriage are subject to division. Both spouses are generally responsible for shared debts, including credit card debts, and the court aims to distribute them fairly. Understanding the nature and amount of debts accumulated is key when navigating the division process.

As couples navigate the intricacies of their divorce proceedings, gaining a clear understanding of these concepts can contribute to a smoother and more informed process.