Tennessee is an “equitable distribution” state. That means the marital property should be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues, otherwise, the court can declare the property award. The courts in Tennessee, if the parties cannot stipulate to a property settlement, will distinguish between what is to be considered separate and marital property, commonly called community property. Property division is a very complicated legal matter when two people decide to divorce, especially when they have lived together for a long period of time.
According to Tennessee statutes, separate property will consist of the following:
1. acquired prior to marriage;
2. by gift or inheritance;
3. in exchange for any separate property, or
4. obtained from income or appreciation of separate property, if the other spouse did not contribute to the preservation and appreciation.
The Tennessee Statutes say community property will consist of the following:
1. any property acquired during the marriage by either spouse;
2. any increase in value of any property to which the spouses contributed to the upkeep and appreciation; and
3. any retirement benefits obtained during the marriage.
An equitable division of the estate of two people considering divorce does not always mean giving up half of your assets. It is much more complicated than that. Normally, community property is divided equally between the two departing spouses. The process gets more complicated when the spouses bring property and assets to the marriage in the beginning, what is inherited during the marriage, and what retirement plans each of the spouses have been contributing to before and after marriage. Also, if the couple has children, the process of dividing up property and assets is complicated further. For example, which spouse is to gain custody of the children may play a larger role in receiving property than the non-custodial parent if the courts so decide that the situation is equitable toward the custodial parent in relation to the marriage as a whole.
Does fair mean giving up half of your assets in a divorce? In places like Memphis and other cities around Tennessee, if you are considering filing for divorce, being fair could mean legally giving up much more than half your assets. If you don’t know what is equitable and fair concerning your legal rights, and you have legal questions concerning a divorce, please contact us right now, and we will put you in touch with a divorce lawyer in your area who can help you answer all the legal questions you may have.
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