Division of Marital Assets in Divorce

When dividing marital assets in a divorce, a trial court has broad discretion and is to consider several factors. The specific factors a trial court should consider when dividing marital property are as follows: (1) the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children; (2) the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (3) the value of the non-marital property set apart to each spouse; (4) the conduct of the parties during the marriage; and (5) custodial arrangements for minor children. See Section 452.330.1, RSMo. Note that these are factors, not elements or black and white requirements. There is no set formula in determining the weight to be given to the factors. The division of property need not necessarily be equal, but it must be fair and equitable under the circumstances of the case.
On appeal, an appellate court will only reverse a trial court’s judgment as to division of marital assets if it constitutes an abuse of discretion. For purposes of appellate review, an abuse of discretion regarding division of property occurs when the decision is ““clearly against the logic of the circumstances and is so arbitrary and unreasonable as to shock one‟s sense of justice and indicate a lack of careful consideration.” Lagermann v. Lagermann, 144 S.W.3d 888, 890 (Mo. Ct. App. 2004).
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