Legal Memorandum: Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage in MO

Issue: Whether Missouri law exists supporting a court’s authority to modify a judgment of dissolution to transfer marital property given to one spouse in the decree to the other spouse upon a finding of contempt for failure to abide by the terms of the decree.

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Judgment of dissolution; Marital property; Transfer
Jurisdiction: Missouri
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.360.1 (2012); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.360.2 (2012); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.330.5 (2012)
Date: 09/01/2012

No authority was found to strongly support this position.  Rather, Missouri law provides that the decree is final upon entry and may not be modified after the time for appeal. 

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.360.1 (2012) (“A judgment of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation is final when entered, subject to the right of appeal.”).

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.360.2 (2012) (“The court’s judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation as it affects distribution of marital property shall be a final judgment not subject to modification.”).

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.330.5 (2012) (“The court’s order as it affects distribution of marital property shall be a final order not subject to modification.”).

In Re Mitchell, 756 S.W.2d 949 (Mo. Ct. App. 1988) (“The trial court is given broad discretion in the division of marital property.  However, once a complete division of the property is achieved, the court’s order, as it affects distribution of marital property, is a final order not subject to modification.  After 30 days, in absence of a motion for new trial . . . , it was beyond the power of the court to alter or vacate the order distributing the marital property.”).

Terrell v. Terrell, 582 S.W.2d 720 (Mo. Ct. App. 1979) (“When the 1975 decree became a final order, the parties were bound by its language.”  Therefore, the court lacked authority to modify the divorce decree to grant the husband’s request to approve the sale of the residence given to wife as a life […]

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