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Can I Get All the Property in My Divorce?

We often hear stories about how one spouse received all of the assets in his or her divorce. Things like "she really took him to the cleaners" or "he was lucky to get the shirt on his back." In reality, this is usually pretty far from the truth. In Missouri the court is not required to follow a rigid formula in dividing property and debt however the division must be fair and equitable to the parties. As a general rule judges are required to divide the marital property equally unless one or more statutory or relevant factors causes such a division to be unjust. Under Missouri law what are those factors that might result in an unequal property division?

  1. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division becomes effective which includes awarding the family home to the party with custody of the children.
  2. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of marital property including the contribution as homemaker.
  3. The value of nonmarital property to be set apart to each party.
  4. The conduct of the parties during the marriage.
  5. Custodial arrangements for minor children.

With regard to the conduct of the parties marital conduct is only a factor in property division when the offending conduct places extra burdens on the other spouse. There must also be evidence of the specific added burdens the non-offending spouse is claiming he or she suffered as a result of such misconduct. What does this really mean? It means that most of the time marital property and debt are divided equally between the parties. Going into a divorce you should start out with the expectation that all of your property and all of your debt will be divided equally unless one of these factors is so significant as to justify a different result.