When you have accumulated a lot of assets during your marriage, it's only natural to worry about what will happen to them in your divorce. In some cases, higher assets could motivate your spouse to try to hide assets from you and the courts. In other cases, you may simply struggle to understand the proper valuation for many unusual assets. One asset, in particular, receives a lot of focus in the average divorce.
Your marital home likely represents a substantial amount of your income during your marriage. The equity in your home may be the single largest asset you share, other than retirement accounts or business ownership. It's only natural to worry about how the courts will handle the process of dividing your home in a divorce.
Every divorce is inherently unique
The most important thing to realize when you approach divorce is that, barring a prenuptial agreement or an uncontested divorce where you agree to terms, there's no way to predict the outcome. When the courts have to decide how to split your assets, all you can do is look to the law to see how they will handle the process.
The courts will consider a number of factors when deciding how to split up your marital assets. In Tennessee, the guiding principle for this process is equitable distribution. The courts will review the length of your marriage, the contributions of both parties (including unpaid work in the home), each spouse's income, economic situation and the separate property of each spouse. The courts will then decide how to divide the shared or marital assets of the divorcing couple.
The courts may award the home to one spouse
In certain cases, including a situation where the home was owned before the marriage or the inherited property of just one spouse, the courts may regard the marital home as separate property and order for it to be retained by one spouse. It is also possible for the courts to award possession of the marital home to one spouse.
Generally, if the home is marital property, the spouse possessing the home will need to refinance it to remove the other spouse from the mortgage and the deeded vesting for the property. The spouse not receiving the home will generally receive cashed-out equity or other sizable assets to offset his or her share of the equity in the home.
Sometimes, the courts order the home sold
If neither spouse can obtain a mortgage for the home with his or her sole income or if the overall equity in the in home is minimal, the courts may simply require that the couple sell the home and split the assets from the sale.
If the courts order the home sold, you may be able to purchase it for the fair market value. However, in many cases, the best financial decision in this scenario is to accept your portion of the sale proceeds and use that to move into a new home after the divorce.