If you are contemplating divorce, one of the things you will undoubtedly be thinking about is the division of property that is required during a divorce. If you own property or assets that you inherited, before or during the marriage, you may be particularly worried about how those assets will be treated in a divorce. A Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses how your inheritance will be handled during the division of assets in a Tennessee divorce.
The Division of Assets and Debts
One aspect of any divorce is the division of assets and debts. Tennessee is an “equitable distribution” state. That simply means that in the absence of an agreement between the parties, a court must order a fair division of the marital assets. Before deciding how the assets will be divided in a Tennessee divorce, you must first determine which assets are subject to division.
What Is “Marital Property?”
Only marital assets are subject to division in a Tennessee divorce. Separate property remains the property of the party who owns the property after the divorce. Tennessee Code Section 36-4-121 defines marital property as follows: “Marital property means all real and personal property, both tangible and intangible, acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage up to the date of the final divorce hearing and owned by either or both spouses as of the date of filing of a complaint for divorce, except in the case of fraudulent conveyance in anticipation of filing, and including any property to which a right was acquired up to the date of the final divorce hearing, and valued as of a date as near as reasonably possible to the final divorce hearing date. . .”
What Is “Separate Property?”
Any property that qualifies as your “separate property” will remain yours after the marriage. Separate property generally includes the following:
- All real and personal property owned by a spouse before the marriage.
- Property acquired in exchange for property a spouse acquired before the marriage.
- Income from property and appreciation of property owned by a spouse before marriage, except when characterized as marital property.
- Property acquired by a spouse at any time by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.
- If a spouse suffers a personal injury or is the victim of a crime, then pain and suffering awards, victim of crime compensation awards, future medical expenses, and future lost wages.
- Property acquired by a spouse after an order of legal separation where the court has made a final disposition of property.
Is Your Inheritance Separate Property?
Number four above refers to inherited property. Therefore, your inheritance is your separate property and is not subject to division in a divorce unless you convert it into marital property. Your inheritance starts off as your separate property, whether you received it prior to or during the marriage; however, if you co-mingle that inheritance, you could inadvertently convert some or all of it into marital property. Co-mingling happens if you “mingle” a separate asset with a marital asset which can legally result in the asset being converted into a marital asset. For example, if you inherited a vacation house and you add your spouse’s name to the title, you may have just turned your separate property into marital property subject to division in a divorce. Co-mingling can occur in a less subtle manner as well though which is why you should always consult with an experienced divorce lawyer regarding your inheritance if you are considering divorce.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about divorce, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer to discuss your options. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.