July 13, 2024

Tennessee law calls for the equitable distribution of marital property upon divorce

Property division is the process of the courts dividing marital property based on equitable distribution upon divorce. It requires that all property first be inventoried, classified, and valued before this process can take place. Once that property has been classified as marital or separate, the court then equitably divides, distributes, or assigns the marital property between the parties, without regard to marital fault, in such a way as the court deems just, but this does not necessarily correlate with a fifty-fifty split.

Marital Versus Separate Property in Tennessee

Tennessee, like other states, distinguishes between marital and separate property: Marital property encompasses those assets that are acquired during the marriage (until the divorce is final), while separate property can include the following:

  • Anything that someone acquired in exchange for property acquired before marriage
  • All property that was received by someone as a gift, bequest, devise, descent, or inheritance (left only to them)
  • Any awards related to personal injury lawsuits (damages collected in connection with future lost wages and medical expenses, pain and suffering, and/or victim compensation) and/or in connection with being a crime victim
  • Any personal and real property owned by the individual before marriage (including retirement assets)
  • Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage
  • Income from and appreciation of property owned before marriage (unless classified as marital property)
  • Property acquired after a legal separation order

However, it is also important to keep in mind that, in deciding on equitable distribution, the courts can take into account whether someone is inheriting property in deciding what exactly is fair.

Factors Considered

In making an equitable division of marital property, the court considers the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age, physical and mental health, skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities, and financial needs of the parties;
  • Any tangible or intangible contributions of each party towards the other party’s earning power, education, or training;
  • The relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, depreciation, or dissipation of the marital or separate property, including any contributions by one party as a homemaker, wage earner, or parent;
  • The value of the separate property of each party;
  • The estate of each party at the time of the marriage;
  • The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective;
  • The tax consequences to each party, costs associated with any sales of assets, and other reasonably foreseeable expenses associated with the asset;
  • The amount of social security benefits available to each spouse; and
  • Such other factors the court deems necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

What Does This Look Like?

It is important to note that, when it comes to equitable distribution of assets (i.e., division of property) upon divorce, this is determined on a very case-by-case basis, depending upon the above-mentioned factors, as well as other circumstances. Therefore, this does not translate to a 50/50 split of each asset, and in fact, the court may give an entire asset to one spouse.

Contact Murfreesboro, TN Family Law Attorney David L. Scott Today

With more than 25 years of experience helping people who are going through divorce and other family law issues here in Tennessee, we are committed to ensuring the best outcome for you. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out more.