Who Gets the House in a Divorce in Missouri?
Divorce is a challenging process that often involves the division of assets, including the family home. For couples going through a divorce in Missouri, determining who gets the house can be a complex and emotionally charged issue. In this article, we will explore the factors that influence property division in a Missouri divorce and provide answers to some frequently asked questions.
Understanding Property Division in Missouri
Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution when it comes to property division in a divorce. Equitable distribution means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between the spouses. It’s important to note that only marital property is subject to division, which includes assets acquired during the marriage.
Separate property, on the other hand, refers to assets owned by either spouse before the marriage or acquired through inheritance or gift during the marriage. Separate property is generally not subject to division in a divorce unless it has been commingled with marital property.
Factors Considered in Property Division
When determining how to divide marital property, Missouri courts consider several factors, including:
1. Contribution to the acquisition of marital property: This includes financial contributions such as earning income or making mortgage payments, as well as non-financial contributions such as maintaining the home or raising children.
2. Economic circumstances of each spouse: The court takes into account the current and future earning capacity, age, health, and overall financial situation of each spouse.
3. The value of each spouse’s non-marital property: If one spouse has significant separate property, it may influence the division of marital property.
4. Conduct of the parties during the marriage: The court may consider factors such as adultery, domestic violence, or financial misconduct when determining property division.
5. Custodial arrangements for minor children: If there are children involved, the court may take into account the needs of the children and which parent will have primary custody when dividing property.
Q: What if the house was purchased before the marriage?
A: If the house was owned by one spouse before the marriage, it may be considered separate property. However, if marital funds were used to pay the mortgage or make improvements, the house’s value may be subject to division.
Q: Can one spouse be forced to sell the house?
A: In some cases, if the court determines that it is in the best interest of both parties, the house may be sold, and the proceeds divided between the spouses. However, if one spouse can afford to buy out the other’s interest, they may be allowed to keep the house.
Q: What if both spouses want to keep the house?
A: If both spouses want to keep the house, they will need to negotiate a settlement or agree to other assets in exchange for one spouse keeping the house. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court may order the house to be sold.
Q: Can the court award temporary possession of the house during the divorce process?
A: Yes, the court can award temporary possession of the house to one spouse while the divorce is pending to maintain stability for the children or ensure fair access to marital assets.
Q: Can property division be modified after the divorce is finalized?
A: Property division is generally final once the divorce is granted. However, in certain circumstances, such as the discovery of hidden assets or a substantial change in circumstances, it may be possible to seek a modification.
In conclusion, the division of assets, particularly the family home, is a significant aspect of a divorce in Missouri. The court considers various factors when determining who gets the house, aiming for an equitable distribution of marital property. It is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to understand your rights and options during this challenging process.