Different states have different approaches when it comes to splitting up property in divorce. As some readers may know, it is standard classify states as using either a community property approach or an equitable division approach. Community property as an approach to property division generally involves dividing marital property equally, though the exact rules vary.
In the equitable division approach, which is used here in Missouri, community property is divided not equally but equitably. Missouri law provides judges significant discretion as to how to do this, though various statutory factors are provided as being relevant to the issue of fairness.
These statutory factors include: the respective contributions the spouses made to acquiring marital property; the custody arrangement; the financial situation of each spouse; and the conduct of the parties during the marriage. A couple important things to point out are that a spouse’s contributions as a homemaker are taken into consideration when determining equitable division and that judges will take into account the appropriateness of awarding the family home-or at least the right to live in it-to the spouse taking custody of children.
Because judges have discretion in making property division determinations, it is important for spouses to work with an experienced attorney to make sure their rights are protected and third interests are advocated in the division process. While an experienced attorney cannot guarantee a specific outcome, zealous advocacy couple with experience gives a spouse the best opportunity for a good outcome.