During the course of a marriage, especially one that lasts a decade or more, it is typical for each spouse to accumulate money, property and various assets: for example, the house you purchased in Knoxville after your wedding, the furniture in it, your cars and even your retirement accounts. All of these items typically fall under the category of marital property. Now that you are considering divorce, you and your future ex-husband will have to divide this property.
Understanding how Tennessee treats marital property in a divorce will help you make decisions regarding your potential divorce settlement. For example, some states follow the laws of community property in which the court will generally divide marital property in half. Other states, like Tennessee, do not recognize community property. To learn more about property division, read further.
Marital Dissolution Agreement
You and your spouse do not have to let a judge decide how to divide your property if the two of you can come to an agreement on your own. By working through your respective attorneys, you might be able to negotiate a settlement that is fair and submit a Marital Dissolution Agreement. However, certain other requirements exist. Not only must the two of you agree to all of the terms, but you must not have minor children, be expecting a child or various other requirements.
How the court decides
If you do not qualify for a Marital Dissolution Agreement, a judge will divide the marital property for you. The court will base its decision on the principles of equitable distribution. This means that the judge will divide the property in a way that he or she deems is fair. Keep in mind that fair does not necessarily mean equal. The judge will look at various factors to make a decision. For instance, the court might examine the earning potential of each of you, how you contributed to the marriage as individuals, and even your physical, mental and emotional health.
You may own some property that is separate from your marital property. This means that it will not be part of the divorce settlement. Any property that you owned before the marriage will revert to you. In addition, any gifts you received or inheritances are also separate in the eyes of the court. However, it is possible for separate property to lose its status. For example, if you received an inheritance and used any part of it pay for joint expenses or make a joint purchase, then it may become marital property.
If you are considering divorce, it is important to understand how marital property laws work in Tennessee. The above can help you when it comes time to create a full inventory of your property for divorce purposes.