When two people marry, they hope that they will be together forever. Statistically, there are a high percentage of cases in which that does not happen. For that reason, it is critical for people in states like Tennessee to understand marital property laws.
In Tennessee, couples who meet a stringent set of specific criteria can put together their own agreement for division of assets. That agreement is called a Marital Dissolution Agreement. However, the criteria include that the couple be in total agreement, and that there not be minor children of the marriage, and that the wife not be pregnant with the husband's baby at the time. Therefore, many divorcing couples don't qualify, and will need to go through a divorce court.
In Tennessee, divorce court judges divide marital property and then redistribute it to the divorcing husband and the divorcing wife. The approach they use to do so is called equitable distribution. That means that the division may not be equal but instead is in accordance with the judge's perception of each person's needs and means. They may take into account things like retirement and social security benefits and the length of the marriage.
Some of the assets may not be subject to division, however, if they are not legally marital property. Those assets can include property owned by one of the spouses before the marriage and capital gains on that property. Gifts, inheritances and awards of civil damages can also be considered separate property that is not subject to division.
Tennessee marital property laws are complex, but your attorney can explain how they apply to your case. You and your attorney can go over what is at stake in your divorce and how you can come out of it with what you need.
Source: FindLaw, "Tennessee Marital Property Laws," accessed April 28, 2016