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Dividing Assets That No Longer Exist at the Time of Trial

A common question that comes up during the middle of the divorce is one party’s request for an asset that no longer exists. Your spouse wants half of last year’s tax refund that you used to pay off the kids’ medical bills six months ago. You want half the value of your spouse’s car that he traded in for something that now has no equity in it. He wants half the value of the trailer that was sold to pay off the joint Discover card. What is the answer in Missouri?

In Missouri divorce courts the court cannot divide property that no longer exists at the time of trial. In particular, the court cannot include the value of a marital asset that no longer exists in its division where one party has used that asset for his or her living expenses following separation but prior to the divorce hearing.

The only exception to this rule is where one party has intentionally squandered or secreted a marital asset in anticipation of divorce. In this case, the court can hold the party liable for the asset by awarding it to him or her in its division of property. For example, your husband liquidates his entire retirement account at the casino because you have told him you plan to divorce after the holidays. In this type of situation, the value of his squandered retirement account can be included in the property division for purposes of divorce.

In summation, the court cannot divide what no longer exists. For more questions related to asset or property division in a Missouri divorce make sure to contact us today.