missouri 50_50 divorce state

Missouri is not a 50/50 divorce state. Instead, it is an equitable distribution state. This is a fair distribution of assets that may not necessarily be equal. While courts may generally assume that 50/50 is fair to start, many factors may change this equation so that a different distribution is more equitable.

At Wegmann Law Firm, we have helped clients for decades in winning a fair asset distribution in their divorce. Our skilled divorce attorneys review your assets and your unique situation to help the court treat you fairly during asset distribution. Schedule a consultation for help with specific questions about your assets.

Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution

Some states are true 50/50 distribution jurisdictions. This occurs in community property jurisdictions, which currently include nine states. Under this system, all assets acquired during the marriage are divided equally between the spouses. Property acquired before the marriage may still be treated as separate property, however.

In an equitable distribution state, which is the majority of the country, spouses divide their property equitably. Equitability focuses on the fairness of the division, rather than a strict compliance with a true 50/50 split. It will consider:

  • Marital assets
  • Separate property
  • Earning potential for both spouses
  • Age of each spouse
  • Spending habits and quality of life
  • Whether there are children in the marriage
  • Marital debts
  • Financial misconduct by either party

Missouri Is Not a 50/50 State in Divorce

Missouri is an equitable distribution state. The court will divide property in the fairest manner possible for the parties. This does not necessarily mean the court will split the assets 50/50. 

If the parties can reach an agreement on their asset division, the court will likely uphold this agreement as a fair distribution of assets. The court will likely review that agreement to ensure that the parties fairly negotiated the settlement and that neither party was taken advantage of. The court will also review that agreement to determine whether it is in the best interests of the children, if you have kids and the asset distribution at issue might affect them.

If you cannot agree on asset division, the court must step in and make decisions. You will both present evidence on your assets to help the court make this decision. The court must decide which assets are marital property and which are separate property. The court must then decide the most appropriate and fair distribution of those assets based on equitable distribution rules.

Is There a Presumption That Assets Are Divided Equally?

Most judges generally start with the proposition that an equal division of assets is the most equitable as well. This is far from a hard rule, but is a generally accepted practice before the court learns of issues that may affect that presumption. 

When equal distribution would not actually be fair, the parties must present evidence to show the judge why that is the case. Reasons that one spouse may be entitled to more assets than the other could include, but are not limited to:

  • One spouse improperly spent a great deal of marital assets
  • The other spouse spent money on a new boyfriend or girlfriend
  • The other spouse spent money gambling or drugs
  • One spouse hid or attempted to hide marital assets

These factors and others may mean that one spouse is entitled to more assets than the other so that it is equitable, rather than equal.

An Experienced Missouri Divorce Lawyer Can Help With Your Asset Division

Skilled Missouri divorce attorneys can help explain how asset division works in your case. We analyze your specific situation to determine what is the best strategy for getting a fair distribution of assets.

At the Wegmann Law Firm, we are ready to help. Request a consultation today to get started.