During your marriage, you and your spouse have combined resources to build a life together. Now that your marriage is ending, you must divide your property.
If you can not reach an agreement on your own or in mediation, the court can divide your assets for you. It is important that you know what to expect when this happens.
Tennessee is an equitable distribution state
In Tennessee, the court does not simply divide marital property equally and award one-half to each spouse. Rather, the court evaluates a number of factors to divide property in a way that is fair to both parties.
“Fair” may not mean what you think
What seems fair to you may not be fair or equitable in the eyes of the court.
For example, if you worked throughout your marriage while your spouse stayed at home to raise children, you may feel entitled to a larger share of the marital assets. However, the court must consider how your spouse contributed to your earning potential by providing child care so you could work.
Your separate property may not really be separate
Separate or non-marital property generally includes:
- Property acquired prior to marriage
- Property acquired in exchange for separate property
- Income earned from separate property
- Property received as a gift, inheritance or part of a personal injury settlement
- Property acquired after separation but before your divorce is final
However, it is easy to blur the boundaries between marital and non-marital property, especially if you are together for many years. For example, if you invest separate assets into a joint account or use marital assets to repair or improve separate property, the court may consider it marital property.
In Tennessee, the court must treat spouses fairly, but not necessarily equally, when dividing assets in a divorce.