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How may I differentiate marital property from separate property?

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2021 | Blog, Property Division

When divorcing in Tennessee, the court generally requires a list of how you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse plan to divide your assets. As described by Tennessee Code Title 36, you must show all your marital property splitting fairly.

As noted by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, distinguishing between separate and marital property may require documentation. Couples in long-term marriages, for example, may have commingled assets and not know which belong to one spouse and reflect his or her separate property.

Assets considered as separate property

With deeds, titles and account statements, you may find it easier to classify your properties as separate or marital. If you purchased a home or car before your marriage, a deed or title may show the court when you obtained it.

A bank account opened in your name before getting married generally classifies as your separate property. If you added your spouse as a joint owner later, the court may require dividing its current balance fairly. Gifts and inheritances, however, generally belong to each spouse separately.

Assets classified as marital property

The Volunteer State typically classifies all assets acquired during a marriage as belonging to both spouses. Titles, for example, may show both spouses’ names on them and require a fair division. Marital property also includes the income that each spouse earned. Income may also include bonuses and retirement contributions.

While some assets may not divide fairly, you and your spouse may negotiate an arrangement in which one of you keeps a property. A spouse may, however, need to buy or trade one asset for another to make the division fair.

Receipts, titles and bank statements may serve as evidence to show the assets each spouse purchased separately before marriage. A Tennessee divorce court judge may only approve your divorce when you can show that your marital assets will split fairly.