Married couples often purchase houses, cars, and many possessions together, as well as try to save for the future and retirement. They also may incur many debts over the course of the marriage, including mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, student loans, and more. When you get divorced, what happens to all of your property, assets, and debts?
Missouri law specifically requires that all marital assets and debts get divided between the spouses in an equitable manner before a St Louis Divorce can be finalized. “Equitable” does not mean equal, and there is no requirement that you figure out how to split your property 50/50. Instead, the law means that divorcing spouses should divide everything in a fair manner given the totality of the circumstances. The following are some examples of assets or debts that may be challenging to divide.
The Family Home
If you and your spouse own a home, you will need to decide what will happen to that property. You can’t slice a house down the middle and each take half, so the most common options are to sell the house and divide the proceeds or for one spouse to remain living in the home. It is especially common for one spouse to keep the house if there are children you do not want to completely uproot.
If you decide that you will stay in the house, you will need to pay your spouse their portion of the equity. If you do not have the capital to do so, you can make arrangements for your spouse to get a larger portion of other assets and property, such as investment or retirement accounts.
If you and/or your spouse own a business, you should carefully consider how to divide your business interests. Even if you are the only one who owns a business, the interests you accrued during the marriage will likely be considered marital property. Similar to a house, many couples in this situation agree that the company owner will keep the business for themselves and the other spouse will get additional assets elsewhere. Keep in mind there may be buy/sell agreements or other relevant contracts that may affect whether interests are transferrable.
If you own a business together, you have did different options, including:
- Keep working together, if you think it is possible
- Have one person buy out the other’s ownership interests
- Sell the business and divide the proceeds
Because the future of your business will affect your future livelihood, this is often a highly important aspect of the property division process.
Dividing Debts a St Louis Divorce
Dividing marital debt can be tricky, and you must first, you must determine whether each debt should be considered to be marital property. Even if a debt is only in one spouse’s name, it may be marital debt if it was incurred during the marriage, if both spouses contributed to paying the debt, or if both spouses benefitted from the debt.
When you get divorced in St Louis, you lose the financial support of your spouse, and you want to limit your bills as much as possible. For this reason, dividing debts can often become more contentious then dividing assets and property.
Agreeing on a Plan
The family court will intervene and determine how you should divide your marital assets and debts if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement. However, it is always preferable for you to keep your financial fate in your own hands and work to find a mutually agreeable arrangement for property division.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on your own, you may benefit from mediation sessions. In mediation, the mediator will review the assets and debts to be divided and will lead the discussion between you to try to reach a compromise. These sessions often result in a settlement agreement, even if you came into the process without opposing desires.
As with all issues in a St Louis divorce, it is always beneficial to find solutions out of the courtroom rather than drag a battle in front of the judge. You should work with a lawyer whose goal is to resolve asset and debt division effectively and efficiently for you.
Contact a St. Louis Divorce Mediation Attorney for More Information
At the J. Rench Law Firm, we work to reduce conflict in each divorce case and find favorable solutions for our clients. Our divorce lawyer helps clients in the St. Louis area resolve divorces and move on in the best position possible. Call 314-207-0641 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment today.