Characterization of Property in Divorce - Increases in Value of Non-Marital Assets only Marital to Extent of Marital Contributions

Under Missouri Law, certain property is considered to be non-marital, and not part of the division of the marital estate in a divorce proceeding. Non-marital property includes property:

  1. Acquired before the marriage;
  2. Acquired by gift or inheritance;
  3. Acquired in exchange for property acquired by 1 and 2 above;
  4. Acquired after a decree of legal separation;
  5. excluded by written agreement (pre or post nup)

In the case of an increase in value of a non-marital asset described above, the general rule is that the increase in value is also non-marital. The exception to the rule occurs when marital assets, including labor or marital income, contribute to the increase in value. The Court of Appeals has said that marital effort, labor , or services, will entitle a spouse to a proportionate share of the increase in value of the separate property, but only after "comprehensive substantiation", including proof of:

  1. a contribution of substantial services;
  2. a direct correlation between those services and the increase in value;
  3. the amount of the increase in value;
  4. performance of services during the marriage; and
  5. the value of the services, the lack of compensation, or inadequate compensation received.

There must more than just services provided, but a connection between valuable services provided and the increase in value of the asset. Note that income received during the marriage by either spouse is considered a marital asset, so if any income of either spouse is contributed to the asset, it is considered a marital contribution. Likewise, in terms of a non-marital business, employment or labor for no or reduced salary is also considered a marital contribution.