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The Difference Between Marital Property and Non-marital Property


When it comes to the division of assets, figuring out what each party is entitled to can be complex.

Divorce Attorney St. Louis

When you are in the midst of a divorce, things can become overwhelming very quickly. It’s already highly emotional time, and the parties seeking the divorce have to try to maintain a sense of calm and rationality in the midst of so much turmoil.

When it comes to the division of assets, figuring out what each party is entitled to can be complex. How your assets were acquired will determine what each party receives. Knowing where the assets came from and how and when they were acquired are all integral to figuring out who gets what without spending an exorbitant amount of time-fighting over what is yours and what is theirs.

Missouri is a “dual-property” state. That means that property in marriages is broken down into two different categories: “nonmarital” and “marital property.” Before you decide who gets what, it is important to consult a St. Louis divorce attorney to figure out what is legally yours and what you might have to share or give up.

What is Marital Property?

Marital assets or property are those assets that are acquired by either spouse after you were wed. Regardless of whose name is on it, if it was received after you were married then it is marital property, and both parties are privy to half of the asset. Unless one party can prove that the asset was gained before the marriage, then it is assumed to belong to both parties equally. There are some exceptions to this rule, though. If an asset was a “gift,” then it is not the property of both parties. Whoever it was gifted to is entitled to keep the asset.

Separate or Nonmarital Property

In Missouri, nonmarital properties are any assets acquired before two parties married. For instance, if someone came into the marriage with a sizable trust fund, then it is considered a nonmarital asset, and the party who owned it before the marriage is entitled to keep it. Also, if someone inherits something, even after two people are married, then it is considered a nonmarital asset because it was the property of one party, even though it was acquired while married.

Separate property is when something like a prenuptial agreement exists. There are times when one party will separate out their assets in writing before getting married to ensure that their assets are safe in case the marriage does not work out. Typically, separate party assets are predetermined in writing and are non-contestable.

Commingling Property

Commingling property is when the marital and nonmarital property is combined. For instance, if someone inherits money and they then put it towards the purchase of a house with their spouse, it is commingled into the house. In these cases, the court needs to decide what percentage each party is entitled to.

Divorce is a difficult time for the involved parties, both emotionally and economically. To make things go more smoothly, knowing the difference between marital, nonmarital, separate and commingling property can help you to spend fewer resources fighting over what the law has already dictated. If you are having a hard time figuring out what gets what, hire a St. Louis divorce lawyer to take the emotional hurdle out of the proceedings and figure out who gets what for a more amicable division.

Divorce Attorney St. Louis

So many questions come up as the reality of divorce settles in. As a 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 The Betz Law Firm today at (314) 801-8488 or fill out our online contact form to request a FREE 30 minutes phone consultation.