FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-08
Many people going through a divorce have questions about how property will be divided between spouses. How property is divided during a person’s divorce depends on a number of factors that are unique to each person’s situation. Although going through a divorce is an emotionally difficult time, knowing what to expect in terms of property division can help ease some of the anxiety.
In some cases, people who are getting a divorce are able to do so amicably, and issues of property division can be decided between the spouses. In other cases, spouses will have a prenuptial agreement that already states how property will be divided in the event of a divorce. Unfortunately, some divorces are more contentious and for whatever reason, spouses cannot come to an agreement on how property will be divided without the involvement of a judge.
How Tennessee courts divide property
If you are involved in a contested divorce, it is important to know that Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. This means that when parties are unable to agree upon how to divide their assets, the court will do it for them by dividing their property equitably. The court conducts discovery and determines what assets are marital property. It will then figure out how much each asset is worth and split it between the spouses in an equitable way. Note that equitable does not necessarily mean equal; it means in whatever way the court deems fair.
It can be difficult determining what is marital property and what is not, since couples share so much during a marriage. Marital property is property that either spouse acquires during marriage. It can also include an increase in value to any property that both spouses contributed to, such as retirement benefits.
The court will consider many factors when determining how to divide property including:
- the contribution of each spouse towards the upkeep or dissipation of the martial property, plus any additional monetary support for raising the children;
- the current value of the spouses’ property, as well as the value during the marriage;
- the economic position that each spouse will be in once the property division goes into effect, including age, health and liabilities of each spouse;
- the length of the marriage; and
- the vocational skills and ability of each spouse to earn a living, plus any contributions to education and training for either spouse.
Tennessee is also a state that recognizes fault and no-fault divorces, but this should not affect a court’s decision when dividing assets. Judges may consider fault if they are going to award alimony, but in the case of dividing assets, fault of one of the parties should not be a factor.
How an experienced family attorney can help
Every family and case is different. One divorce may have issues that another does not. Deciding how to divide property equitably can be complicated. If you or a loved one is going through a divorce, contact an experienced Tennessee family law attorney to explore legal options.