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Differences in Property Classification between Kansas and Missouri law

A recent case demonstrates a key difference between Kansas law and Missouri law on the classification of property in a divorce case. In Jenkins v. Jenkins, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District held that adding a spouse to the title of non-marital property, in this case a farm, transmutes separate non-marital property into marital property. Consequently, when the original owner re-titled the property adding his spouse to the title, the farm became marital property. When the parties placed the property into their trust, the property remained marital property. As such it was subject to division.

Kansas law, on the other hand, has no such hard-and-fast statutory requirements for classification of property as marital or non-marital. Once a petition for divorce is filed, all property owned by the parties—whether titled jointly or separately—becomes "marital" and is subject to division by the trial court. However, as a practical matter, some judges will "set aside" to the respective party property one party brings into the marriage or else acquires during the marriage by way of inheritance or gift from third parties. Johnson County has promulgated guidelines prescribing such a result. And even if such property has been jointly titled during the marriage, the judge will often restore it to the party who brought it into the marriage.

The case can be viewed here:

Jenkins v. Jenkins