Many people understandably worry about the costs associated with divorce. Most people are aware, for example, that a divorce will require a division of their resources and financial obligations with their spouse. In addition to whatever people must pay for the divorce itself, they will have to absorb the cost of dividing their assets with their spouses during a divorce. The uncertainty that comes with property division often gives people pause. They worry about losing certain assets or experiencing financial setbacks that could affect their career path or retirement plans.
Yet, individuals who understand the property division rules that apply during a Missouri divorce may feel more confident about initiating or responding to a divorce filing. How does Missouri handle property division during divorce?
Spouses can set their own terms
The best-case scenario for many people preparing for divorce in Missouri involves an uncontested divorce filing. They work with their spouses to negotiate a property division settlement that everyone agrees is fair. Some couples even have pre-existing agreements setting specific terms for property division should they divorce. Couples can set essentially any terms that they believe are appropriate if they reach a mutual agreement on the matter.
What if spouses disagree?
In the relatively common situation in which spouses cannot agree on property division terms, a judge has the authority to resolve their disputes. Both spouses will need to make full disclosure of their personal resources to the courts, a judge will then look over an inventory of their assets and debts while considering other details from the marriage.
The health of each spouse, they’re unpaid contributions to the family and even the length of the marriage can influence what a judge decides. The ultimate goal in property division litigation is an equitable or fair division of marital property and debts. Judges can allocate some assets to each spouse, order their liquidation or make one spouse responsible for marital debts to justify letting them keep more marital property.
There is very little certainty in property division litigation, as judges have the discretion to make a variety of different decisions that they believe would be appropriate. Those who feel strongly about protecting certain assets or obtaining certain terms during a Missouri divorce may want to work toward an uncontested divorce filing where they set their own property division terms.
Learning about the rules that apply during divorces in Missouri can give people the information and confidence they need to move forward with the process. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.