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Kansas City Divorce Lawyer - (816) 454-5600


DIVISION OF PROPERTY:  In Missouri, there are two categories of property: marital property and non-marital property.

            Marital property is typically any property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage.  However, there are exceptions.  Property acquired during the marriage, through inheritance, gift or perhaps an increase in the value of pre-marital property, is usually considered non-marital property.  However, if “marital efforts” are used to increase the value of non-marital property, such as making an improvement on a non-marital home (using marital funds), then the value of that improvement can sometimes be considered marital property.  During the course of a divorce proceeding, both parties are required to fill out financial statements which are each party’s version of what assets are marital and what assets are non-marital, the value of those assets and who should receive those assets.  The same applies to debts. The parties will be asked to indicate which parties should be ordered to pay various debts.  The parties have to disclose to the other party their various financial statements.  This is done through the attorneys.  Ultimately, in the end, the judge will decide who receives what property, unless the parties enter into a Property Settlement Agreement.  The best result is that the parties agree who will receive what property and who will be assessed what debts.  If the judge has to decide who will receive what property and who will have to pay what debts, neither party will be happy.  The judge brings his or her own biases and life experiences to the decision and simply cannot and does not have the time to look into the history of the family in great detail, and can only make very quick, educated decisions about the division of property and debts.  Again, it is best if the parties, through the attorneys, can reach an agreement as to the division of property and debts.  The court also looks at various factors in determining how assets and debts are to be divided.  These factors are as follows:


  1. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children;
  2. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
  3. The value of the non-marital property set apart to each spouse;
  4. The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and
  5. Custodial arrangements for the minor children


Missouri is a “no fault” state.  The Missouri Supreme Court and appellate courts have indicated that typically fault does not come into play when determining the division of property.  However, the Courts have also indicated that if marital misconduct adversely affects the financial situation of the parties then fault can be a factor.  For example, if a spouse is spending marital assets to further an affair, then the Court can take that into account in the division of assets.   If a spouse is “wasting” marital assets, then the conduct can be taken into account.  Be careful though, because “wasting” marital assets doesn’t necessarily mean spending money on things that you don’t need.