For many, the decision to divorce proves extremely difficult for Tennessee couples. Terminating a marriage can bring many emotions, but stress heightens when a judge begins to determine which spouse will receive specific assets and which assets will require division. Understanding the law surrounding property division lowers the potential for confusion during asset splitting in during divorce.

In Tennessee, a judge may not divide certain assets during divorce proceedings. Due to the process of equitable distribution, all marital property faces division, but property designated as “separate” only belongs to individual spouses and cannot transfer to another spouse. It is important to understand what constitutes marital and separate property, so that you and your spouse understand all elements when the court begins the process of property division. When going through a divorce, whether an uncontested or a contested divorce, you want to hire an experienced attorney to help you provide all necessary documents and present an accurate argument for specific assets.

Marital property and a judge’s division

In Tennessee equitable distribution divorces, marital property constitutes all property obtained throughout your marriage. This property does not need tangibility, but you and your spouse must have acquired the assets during your legal marriage. Marital property may include:

  • Real property such as cars and homes
  • Salaries
  • Retirement plans
  • Pensions
  • Debts
  • Bank account cash

To the best of their ability, a judge will determine, by looking at multiple aspects of your marriage, whom will receive certain large assets, and whom will receive specific shares of the remaining cash assets. Know that when the court decides how to divide the funds, it determines a fair, versus equal division. Attempting to not burden one spouse or another, the fair split will ensure that neither spouse feels detrimentally affected by the divorce outcome.

Separate property not subject to split

Perhaps you began a business before your marriage and accrued significant income. Then, you married to your spouse, and he or she began taking on business responsibilities. You feel that since you began the business, paid for upfront costs and benefited, you deserve a larger share.

Perhaps your grandparent passed away and left you assets. You and your spouse shared some of the assets during your marriage, but now you feel that you deserve the remaining portion of the inheritance gift.

In either situation, the court may determine that these benefits – the business and the inheritance – constitute separate property. According to Tennessee law, separate property that belongs solely to one spouse may include:

  • All property you owned before you married
  • All income from property that you obtained before you married
  • Any gifts or inheritances received by you
  • Any damages of pain and suffering or compensation awards received by you
  • Any property obtained from a previous marriage

A court may not split any property you owned before you and your spouse married. This property belongs to you, and though you and your spouse may have shared its benefits during your marriage, the property may designate back to you. In any divorce property disputes and divisions, you may want to seek the help of an experienced attorney, so that you can receive all required assets.