Property division 101: Who gets what in a divorce settlement?

There are many factors that must be considered when dividing marital property in a divorce.

While filing for divorce is never an easy decision, separating the property and assets that have been amassed throughout years of marriage can be extremely difficult for any couple. Not only are there often strong feelings involved when it comes to parting with certain items, but determining who is legally entitled to what in the divorce settlement can be hard for couples to negotiate.

Equitable division of property

Missouri follows an equitable distribution of property model when separating marital assets and property in a divorce case. This does not mean that each party will walk away with exactly half of the marital stash, as they would in a community property state. Rather, the judge over the case will carefully look at the details surrounding the situation and make an equitable and fair decision about what property each party is entitled to in the settlement.

A look at the factors

According to Missouri statutes, there are several factors that a judge may consider before making a decision as to who is entitled to what in divorce proceedings. These include the following:

· How long the couple was married.

· Which parent received custody of the children, if children are involved.

· How each party behaved during the course of the marriage.

· The economic status of each party when the property is being separated.

In addition to these factors, the judge may look at the extent to which each spouse contributed to the acquisition of the marital property. This includes going to school and obtaining a career, as well as maintaining the home and taking care of the children. If one spouse put his or her career and/or education on hold in order to assist the other spouse with their academic and career goals, the judge will often take this into consideration.

Not all property may be eligible for division in a divorce settlement. Separate property, including inheritance, a gift given by a third-party and any property owned by either party prior to the marriage, may stay entirely with the original owner.

Help making important decisions

Going through the divorce process can be emotional, which can alter your ability to make crucial life decisions. It may be helpful to seek counsel from an attorney in Missouri who has experience guiding people through a divorce. Not only can a lawyer answer your questions regarding different situations, but he or she may be able to look at your options and assist you in making a choice that is best for your particular case.