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  • Writer's pictureThe Law Office of Allen E. Schwartz


Splitting one life into two is stressful and time-consuming when it comes to dividing marital property and assets accumulated throughout a marriage. Tennessee couples live in an equitable distribution state. This means that when you get divorced, your judge will be more focused on finding the outcome that is fair for to both sides, not necessarily what's equal. Your property division may not be fifty-fifty.

What Is Equitable Distribution?

In the family law arena, equitable distribution is a system used for dividing marital property (with the other being community property).

Under the rules of equitable distribution, anything either you or your spouse acquire while married—belong to the both of you. During divorce, this property will be divided between you, equitably.

Equitable does not mean fifty-fifty - it doesn't even mean you'll get part of every asset. The focus of equitable distribution is what's fair - this ensures that neither spouse either benefits—or is unfairly punished—as a result of the marriage.

How is Equitable Distribution Different than Community Property?

Community property focuses on what's equal, while equitable distribution emphasizes what's fair. Community property primarily focuses on what's in the here and now - things like real estate, retirement accounts, and debt, etc. Intangible factors are not as important in a community property split.

Equitable distribution courts are allowed to consider intangible assets - while these are subjective and more difficult to value - the end division is often times fairer for having considered these factors as well.

How Do The Courts Divide Property Using Equitable Distribution?

The court will follow these four steps:

Classify property as either marital or separate

Divide property in an equitable split

Identify all property

Value all property

Equitable Distribution and Alimony / Spousal Maintenance

Alimony or spousal maintenance are payments one spouse is ordered to make to the other, in order to help support the other spouse after divorce. These payments are often times made to the spouse who has sacrificed education and career opportunities, in order to support the family in other non-monetary ways. Because equitable distribution is allowed to consider intangible factors, alimony is often times not as high in Tennessee.

Consult with a competent attorney to make sure you know your rights. A divorce lawyer in Knoxville, TN like Law Office of Allen E. Schwartz can help you make sure that your rights are protected.

Attorney Allen E. Schwartz at Law Office of Allen E. Schwartz has over 40 years of experience helping people with divorce and family law legal issues in Tennessee. The goal of his legal practice is to provide high quality legal advice.


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