What is marital property in Missouri?

A common divorce question is, “What is marital property in Missouri?” The easy answer is that anything a couple accumulates during their marriage is considered marital property. This includes both assets (stuff) and liabilities (stuff you owe). Here is the important part most people miss: it doesn’t matter who bought it, who earned the money that bought it, whose name is on the title, or whose name is on the debt. Really.

So what isn’t marital property?

Not all property is marital. The property and debts each spouse owns prior to the marriage remain separate property in most circumstances. Anything gifted to or bequeathed to (inherited by) one spouse alone is also considered separate property.

Are those labels set in stone?

No. Separate property can be converted to marital property in a variety of ways. For example, if one spouse inherited a house during the marriage, but then adds the other spouse’s name to the deed, uses marital funds to make major repairs and the mortgage payments, and the couple lives in the house, then there is a good argument that the spouse has converted the house from separate property to marital property. These circumstances are very fact specific. If you have a questionable item, you should get help from a lawyer to determine the correct classification of the property.

What is an uncontested divorce in Missouri?

The short answer to the question “What does ‘uncontested divorce’ mean?” is that a husband and wife agree that they no longer want to be married to each other and agree on exactly how they wanted to conclude their marriage before they file any documents with the Court asking it to dissolve their marriage.

Sound simple? Well, that’s because it is. It can be a very easy way to get divorced. Uncontested divorce is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get divorced in Missouri.

Here is what needs to be decided between the divorcing spouses:

  • That the marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • How to divide the marital property including personal property, household goods, real property, retirement plans etc.
  • Whether one or both parents will make major decisions on behalf of any children.
  • A parenting schedule that lays out when each parent has custody of the children.
  • If one parent will need to pay child support to the other, the amount and method of payment. (To learn how child support is calculated in Missouri, click here).
  • If one spouse needs Maintenance (Alimony) and for how long.

For most couples with simple assets and no children this should be easy to negotiate if both spouses are interested in saving time and money in the divorce process.

Uncontested divorce is also a really good option for couples with children and simple assets who are willing to work together to make a parenting plan.