Tennessee and Kentucky both use a process called equitable distribution when dividing assets during a divorce. This means that courts will first classify everything as marital or separate property, and then divide as a judge sees fair. This process can seem confusing and sticky at first, but once you understand the basics, it can be easier to navigate.
Understanding marital vs. separate property
Separate and marital property is essentially a division between what assets were bought before the marriage and what came into your possession during it. You typically keep what was yours before you got married and split what you got together, though there are some important complications to recognize in times when separate property becomes marital.
For example, if you invest in an expensive sports car before you are married, it should stay yours. However, if you have a house that your spouse moves into, helps you fix up and lives there for a significant amount of time with you, it may become marital property because you have both invested in it.
How to split marital property
Courts typically divide marital property, unless you opt for an out-of-court divorce, like mediation. A judge will consider many things when separating property, including:
- Length of the marriage
- What separate property each spouse has
- Health and age
- Ability to earn money as a single person
- Contribution to earning capacity of the other (i.e. how a spouse who stays at home made it possible for the other who worked to do so)
- Role in the marriage and in creating the estate
As you work through dividing your assets, it may be helpful to consider what you really feel is essential to fight for and what you are okay giving up. This can help you focus on what is important for your life after divorce and work through property division more smoothly.