A common divorce question is, “What is marital property in Missouri?” The easy answer is that anything a couple accumulates during their marriage is considered marital property. This includes both assets (stuff) and liabilities (stuff you owe). Here is the important part most people miss: it doesn’t matter who bought it, who earned the money that bought it, whose name is on the title, or whose name is on the debt. Really.

So what isn’t marital property?

Not all property is marital. The property and debts each spouse owns prior to the marriage remain separate property in most circumstances. Anything gifted to or bequeathed to (inherited by) one spouse alone is also considered separate property.

Are those labels set in stone?

No. Separate property can be converted to marital property in a variety of ways. For example, if one spouse inherited a house during the marriage, but then adds the other spouse’s name to the deed, uses marital funds to make major repairs and the mortgage payments, and the couple lives in the house, then there is a good argument that the spouse has converted the house from separate property to marital property. These circumstances are very fact specific. If you have a questionable item, you should get help from a lawyer to determine the correct classification of the property.