When getting a divorce, the word property becomes critical. This is because, in order to divide all of a family’s property at the time of dissolution, the court requires each party to list what it is that he/she owns and then classify the listed property as either marital or separate property. This document that is filed with the court is called a Statement of Property.
The property that needs to be disclosed in a divorce includes real property (such as a house or vacation condominium), personal property (such as cars, household furniture, collectibles, jewelry, clothing, farming equipment), and intangible property (such as retirement accounts, investments, bank accounts, pensions, life insurance policies).
In general, separate property is property owned prior to the marriage or property that is acquired by one spouse during the marriage by gift, bequest, devise or descent. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage or property purchased using marital funds.
In Missouri, the court presumes that if an asset was acquired during the marriage then it is marital property, regardless of whose name is on the deed or title. In certain circumstances, this presumption can be overcome by presenting evidence to the court that the asset in question was intended to be separate property or was purchased with funds that were separate property and not marital. When it comes to money, the presumption is that all income earned by the parties during the course of their marriage is categorized as marital property.
Money in a Divorce:
Funds that were separate can become so commingled with marital funds that they become marital property. As an example, Wife inherits $20,000 cash from deceased Grandmother. Wife deposits the cash into her joint checking account with her husband. Prior to this deposit, the joint checking account only contained $4,000 from Wife and Husband’s paychecks. Now the joint account contains $20,000 of Wife’s separate property and $4,000 of marital property. In order for Wife’s inheritance to maintain its classification as separate property at the time of her divorce, Wife will have to be able to trace the funds in the account back to her initial deposit.
It would have been much easier for Wife to assert that her inheritance remained her separate property had she deposited the $20,000 into a new, separate bank account so that her money was not commingled with marital funds.
If the parties going through the divorce process in Missouri have entered into a valid prenuptial agreement (also referred to as an antenuptial agreement), it is likely that some, if not all, of the parties’ property has been categorized within the agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between a couple prior to their marriage, setting out the terms of possession of assets, treatment of future earnings, control of the property, and potential division if either party chooses to seek dissolution of the marriage.
Finding Competent Representation in your Family Law Case in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area:
If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce in the St. Louis area and has questions or concerns about the treatment of marital and separate property, call the Law Offices of Kathleen E. Shaul, P.C. Kathleen Shaul is a strong advocate for her clients and is able to assist with questions regarding all aspects of the divorce process. Call our office at 314.499.1476 to schedule a confidential consultation.