Marital Property vs. Separate Property
When choosing to get divorced in Tennessee, assets are usually separated into two distinct categories – marital property and separate property. Understanding the difference between the two can go a long way toward helping you negotiate how your assets are split during the dissolution of your marriage.
Marital property involves all assets and debts accumulated by the couple during the marriage. Marital property includes the marital home, second homes, motor vehicles, income, bank accounts, business interests, royalties, stocks, retirement accounts, 401k accounts, credit card charges, rents, and every other asset acquired or debt incurred during the period of the marriage.
Conversely, separate property generally consists of all assets owned or debts incurred by either spouse before the marriage. Separate property also includes gifts, bequests, and third-party inheritances received by each spouse during the marriage.
Who Determines How Assets Are Divided?
In a Tennessee divorce, the property division process can vary depending on whether or not you’re facing contested asset division or uncontested asset division.
Uncontested Asset Division
In uncontested asset division, both spouses mutually agree upon key terms and conditions of how the couple's assets and debts will be divided. Every detail of the agreement will be properly documented in a marital dissolution agreement, and all agreed-upon terms will be filed with the Tennessee court for official approval. Despite this being an uncontested situation, an experienced attorney is still recommended to help protect your rights and keep the conversation productive.
Contested Asset Division
Contested asset division typically arises when the two spouses are unable to agree on one or more key terms of how the assets and debts should be distributed. Resolving such issues will require the intervention of a Tennessee court. During the court hearing, a judge will issue a final verdict. A knowledgeable asset division attorney can help present your case meticulously to the court and work to give you the best possible chance at achieving a favorable outcome.
Factors Considered in Asset Division in Tennessee
Tennessee is considered an equitable distribution state. According to Tennessee Code section 36-4-121, the court must divide marital property fairly and equitably. The following relevant factors may be considered by the court when attempting to determine equitable asset distribution:
- The length or duration of the marriage.
- The age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities, and financial needs of each spouse.
- The tangible or intangible contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party.
- The relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- The value of the separate property of each party.
- The economic situation of each spouse during the property division.
- The tax consequences to each party.
- Other factors deemed necessary by the court to achieve equitable distribution.
Work With an Experienced Asset Division Attorney
Filing for divorce in Tennessee involves a lot of complicated procedures. Negotiating a divorce settlement or dividing marital property with your ex-spouse can make the process even more complex and overwhelming. Therefore, when trying to determine asset division in a divorce, consulting with a knowledgeable Tennessee family law attorney can be crucial for proper guidance and protect the best interests of both you and your family.
Our team of attorneys at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed is dedicated to providing experienced legal services and comprehensive guidance to individuals and families facing complex divorce matters, including asset division. As your legal counsel, we will work diligently with all parties involved to resolve asset division issues as peacefully and efficiently as possible. Our team will fight compassionately to protect your rights and safeguard what matters most to you and your family. Call or reach out today to schedule a case consultation.