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What does Equitable Distribution mean in Missouri?

In Missouri, when a couple obtains a divorce, their property needs to be divided as part of the dissolution of their marriage. Missouri uses the concept of equitable distribution to guide judges when dividing the marital property of a couple.

Equitable distribution means that a court divides the property in a manner that is fair. This is important, because "fair" is not a synonym for "equal." This can cause some concern for parties to a divorce, who may fear that either they will lose much of their assets or that they will be left with too small a portion of the assets.

To help a court arrive at a property division that is equitable, the legislature has created some additional factors that a court should examine when working thorough its calculation.

These five factors include such things as, "The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property," which specifically allows a judge to recognize the value of a "homemaker."

Some are very broad, such as "The conduct of the parties during the marriage," or somewhat narrower, as with "Custodial arrangements for minor children." Because of this, you want your divorce attorney to make the most compelling arguments for each of these factors.

The judge will be looking for specific, concrete evidence to support each factor. The more effectively you can support your arguments, the more likely you will receive an equitable distribution that truly provides you with a strong foundation for your financial future after your divorce.

Moga.mo.gov, "Disposition of property and debts, factors to be considered," Missouri Revised Statutes, accessed October 9, 2014

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