Whether you’ve been married for a few years or a few decades, assets and marital property add up over time. From joining bank accounts to signing a mortgage and putting a down payment on a home, married couples often share many assets.
Unfortunately, forever isn’t always the case for every marriage and couples do get divorced and marriages end. But what happens to the assets that you acquired before and during your marriage? Keep reading to learn about how assets are divided and what you can expect from your divorce.
What Qualifies as Marital Assets?
With a few exceptions, a marital asset is generally any property that was obtained during the marriage. Marital assets are shared by both spouses regardless of who signed or purchased the property. Marital assets can range from everyday things like money to vehicles, houses, insurance, pensions, debts, etc. If property was purchased or acquired during the marriage, there is a presumption that the property is a marital asset.
How are Marital Assets Divided?
In the state of Missouri, the court categorizes marital assets as either marital property or non-marital property. What does this mean? According to Missouri courts, all property that was obtained during the marriage is presumed marital. Exceptions include assets that were acquired prior to the marriage, like a vehicle that was purchased by one spouse before they were married or a piece of jewelry that was passed down to one spouse prior to the marriage. Other exceptions, such as certain retirements and gifts or inheritances, may apply as well.
In Missouri, the court will divide marital assets in a way that is fair and equitable, after consideration of a number of factors. The court generally aims to divide all marital property evenly so both spouses possess an even amount of marital equity following the divorce.
Oftentimes spouses decide how they want to divide shared property and assets. However, there are times when the court must decide how to divide property and assets, especially when the divorce is contested and the spouses refuse to settle on dividing property themselves.
How Can I Protect My Assets?
Worried about how assets will be divided during the divorce process? Although the court will divide assets based on marital and non-marital property, there are some things you can do to prepare for the division of assets and protect them.
A great place to start is to meet with a Lee’s Summit divorce lawyer. The family law attorneys at The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC have been providing services to the greater Kansas City area and the Leawood, Kansas area for many decades. We’ll help guide you through the division of property and assets in a divorce case so you can better understand the process.
After speaking with and hiring a divorce attorney, you’ll want to make an inventory of both your marital assets and your non-marital assets. If you purchased anything before the marriage then you’ll probably want to keep that property following the divorce. Keeping a master list of everything you purchased before your marriage will help your divorce attorney understand what is marital property and what is non-marital property.
Regarding pension plans, a portion of the retirement plan is likely considered marital property in most states. Pension plans can be handled in two ways: 1) you may retain the entire value of your pension plan if it can be offset by another asset, or 2) it can be divided, which would require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or other Domestic Relations Order. Once you hire a divorce attorney, it’s important to obtain all financial documents including your retirement plan documents. Your financial situation affects how pension plans will be divided, so it’s important to discuss everything with your attorney.
There are some other ways to protect your assets and protect your finances that your family law attorney can walk you through. Again, your family law attorney is there to help guide you through the process and get the best possible outcome for you.
If you’re searching for a family law attorney in Johnson County or a family law attorney in Kansas City, contact The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through the entire legal process of divorce and the division of assets while keeping your best interests in mind. With another fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
Our office also provides efficient mediation services. Mediation can be utilized to resolve part or all of the issues involved in any particular dispute including divorce and the division of assets. Mediation offers many benefits including being quicker and less costly than traditional court proceedings. When you choose to do mediation at The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC, you’ll be in excellent hands with our three experienced and trustworthy mediators, also the three partners of our family law firm.
Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we’re able to meet in person or face-to-face via Zoom.