Divorce in Tennessee: Dividing the assets

When Tennessee couples divorce, they or the court must determine which of their assets are shared, and how they should be split.

The Tennessee Department of Health reports there were 25,298 divorces across the state in 2014 alone. After making the difficult decision to split from their spouse, divorcing couples must turn their attention toward settling their cases. For some, the most quarrelsome aspect of the process may be the division of their property. In order to protect themselves, it is important for people to be familiar with how assets are divided during divorces in Tennessee.

What is separate property?

Very often, people have property of their own when they get married. This may include bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate or vehicles. For the purposes of a divorce, such assets may be considered separate property. Thus, these assets remain theirs alone and are not subject to the property division process.

Separate property may also include gifts or inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage or compensatory damages. In addition, property that was obtained during the marriage in exchange for assets that were acquired before their nuptials may qualify as separate property.

What is marital property?

Over the course of a marriage, it is common for couples to acquire assets, which they share. This includes real and personal property, such as wages, real estate, artwork and vehicles. In the event of a divorce, such assets may be considered marital property. Also, workers' compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits received during a marriage may be considered shared assets.

Sometimes, separate property increases in value or brings in income during a couple's marriage. Provided each spouse contributes to the appreciation and preservation of such assets, the increased value or income may qualify as marital property.

Dividing assets

In the state of Tennessee, marital property is divided in accordance with the principal of equitable distribution. This means that, while each spouse may be equally entitled to a part of their shared property, marital assets do not have to be split into equal shares. Rather, they are divided fairly and equitably by the court. In order to make a determination on how a couple's marital property should be divided, the court may consider numerous factors, including the following:

  • The duration of the couple's marriage
  • Contributions made by one spouse toward the education and training of the other
  • Each spouse's age, physical health and mental health
  • The employability, vocational skills and earning capacity of each spouse
  • Each spouse's financial needs and liabilities

Additionally, the court may take into account the size and types of assets held by the couple's estate. Each spouse's contributions to the marriage may also factor into the court's decision.

Working with a lawyer

Going through a divorce can be a challenging experience for people in Tennessee, and may be made more difficult when the case is drawn out. Therefore, those who are considering splitting with their spouses may find it helpful to seek legal counsel. An attorney may not only guide them through the legal process, but also help negotiate settlements on their behalf.