When dividing assets in a divorce, property acquired during the marriage (marital property) is viewed differently from property an individual had before the marriage (non-marital property). The same is true for debt. Non-marital property and debt remain the individual spouse's sole possession or responsibility, while marital property must be divided.
Your divorce agreement will explain precisely how marital property and debt will be divided. However, this division must be consistent with Missouri law for dividing marital property and debt.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
Once the marital property and debt are identified, they are divided according to a principle known as equitable distribution. Equitable does not mean equal, however. Instead, the judge will determine a fair distribution of property, which will likely not be a 50/50 division. Some of the factors the court may consider when dividing property and debt include:
- The economic circumstances of both spouses
- Contributions of both spouses to the acquisition of marital property. This includes contributions made by a spouse who was a homemaker or stay-at-home parent.
- Whether the family home or the right to live in the family home should go to the spouse who has primary custody of the children
- The value of each spouse's non-marital property
- The conduct of each spouse during the marriage
- Child custody arrangements
- Tax implications
While the court may assign one spouse the responsibility for paying a debt, creditors may still try to get money from the other spouse in the event of non-payment. Additionally, non-payment may impact the credit score of both spouses even after the divorce.
Property and Debt Division Decisions Are Final
The court can't later amend these decisions. Accordingly, they must be done correctly.
Contact Our Family Law Attorneys Today
From our Cape Girardeau and Perryville offices, the team at Layton & Southard serves clients throughout Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Please contact us online or call our Cape Girardeau office directly at 573.335.3359 to schedule your initial consultation.