The dissolution of a marriage typically comes with many emotional and financial challenges. One of the most complex parts of the financial aspect of a divorce is the division of marital assets.
Not every state handles the splitting of marital assets in the same way. Understanding Tennessee's specific property division laws is critical for achieving the outcome you want when it comes to the division of your marital property during divorce.
How is marital property split in Tennessee?
In a community property state, property that has been acquired in the course of the marriage must be divided 50/50. Only a handful of states fall under the community property state category, and Tennessee is not one of them. Instead, Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. This means that a judge will divide your and your future ex's marital property in a manner that he or she deems to be as equitable, or fair, as possible.
How does a judge determine what is equitable?
A judge bases his or her property division decisions on several factors. For example, the judge might consider the degrees to which both you and your future ex tangibly contributed to your marriage. Another factor the judge will take into consideration is the amount of retirement funds, including Social Security, available to both of you. The court will also consider how long you have been married. One factor that a judge will not take into account during this process is who was at fault for the ending of your marriage.
If you and your future ex-spouse cannot agree on a particular marital asset's value, the court will end up determining its value. The court will likely use an outside appraiser to make this determination unless the value of the asset is obvious -- for instance, in the case of shares of a certain stock or bank account amounts.
Your rights during marital property division
During the marital property division process, you do not have to worry about splitting any property you owned before you got married. You also do not have to give up a percentage of any property you received as an inheritance or a gift. An applied understanding of the law may help you to fight for your fair share of assets and protect you from losing any assets that rightfully belong to you.