In a divorce, the things that were once called “ours” are divided into “his” and “hers.” This can be one of the more difficult parts of going through a divorce.
When filing for divorce in Missouri, no matter the county, St. Louis County, Jefferson County, etc. the law in Missouri on this matter is the same.
What is Marital Property?
Marital property is traditionally considered all property acquired by either spouse subsequent (from the date of marriage forward) to the marriage. This includes pretty much what you’d expect: Houses, Cars, Bank Accounts, 401 (k)’s, etc. It even covers items of personal property, like clothes, furniture, jewelry and more. You and your divorce lawyer will work together to create a comprehensive list of the property which will be incorporated into a document known as the Statement of Property.
What is the Purpose of the Statement of Property?
The Statement of Property essentially declares to the court what you assert, by a sworn affidavit, to be your comprehensive list of property both marital and separate. The court will rely on this document throughout the divorce proceedings. You and your lawyer will sometimes file new and updated versions as you obtain more current and relevant information about your property.
As regards marital property, there are some exceptions to the rules. The most common being that of property acquired by gift or inheritance. For instance, if you or your wife inherits money during your marriage when you get divorced, this will be presumed to be separate property. If you received a gift during the marriage, say an expensive painting, that painting, even though acquired during the marriage, will be considered separate property.
A less common way marital property would be exempted from being marital is when you have a valid written agreement (typically this means an ante-nuptial also known as a pre-nuptial agreement) that excludes the property. An example of this might be a pre-nuptial agreement that specifically states that rental income from a pre-marital, and therefore separate office building, is also separate property.
What is Separate Property?
Separate property is less nuanced. Separate property, or non-marital property, is basically that property which was acquired PRIOR to the marriage.
What does all this mean in the context of your divorce? The court is charged with setting apart to you and your spouse your non-marital property and the court is charged with dividing your marital property in a manner considered to be just. We also sometimes refer to this as a fair and equitable division.
A conscientious lawyer will work with you to help identify and classify the nature of your property. Don’t assume that all of his pension is marital, don’t assume a house (even though purchased prior to the marriage) is entirely separate, there are exceptions and believe it or not, competing legal theories.
Experienced St. Louis Divorce Lawyers
Hundreds of questions come to mind as the stark reality of divorce settles in. At The Betz Law Firm, our goal is to help you find the answers to those questions and to begin the next phase of your life with as much ease as possible.
Call us today at (314) 801-8488 or fill out our online contact form to request a free and private consultation. We are dedicated to providing our clients and their families with kind, personalized, and professional legal representation throughout the entire divorce process.