Are you contemplating filing for divorce in Tennessee? Has your spouse already filed for a divorce? If so, you are likely concerned about how a number of issues will be handled in the divorce. For many people, at the top of the list of concerns is the division of property in the divorce. Statistics tell us that in most cases, divorce causes one spouse’s financial status to be elevated while the other spouse’s financial status suffers. The assets you and your spouse own are part of the post-divorce financial picture for both of you, giving you plenty of reason to be concerned about how they are divided in the divorce. Although no two divorces are the same, a Smyrna divorce attorney offers some basic info that applies to the division of property in any Tennessee divorce.
What Property Is Subject to Division?
The first consideration is not how your property will be divided, but what property will be divided in the divorce. Only marital property will be subject to division in the divorce. Your separate property will remain yours as will your spouse’s. As a general rule, marital property includes all assets acquired during the marriage except assets that are gifted to a spouse or that are part of an inheritance. Separate property includes property you owned prior to the marriage and that you kept separate during the marriage. Separate property can become marital property if it is co-mingled during the course of the marriage. Co-mingling occurs when you do something that changes a separate asset into a marital asset. This can be something overt, such as putting your spouse’s name on the ownership documents to your home that you owned prior to the marriage. It can also happen less obviously – sometimes even unintentionally – by doing something such as using marital funds to pay for the car and maintenance of a separate asset. Once a separate asset has been co-mingled, it becomes a marital assets and is, therefore, subject to division in the divorce.
Smyrna Divorce Attorney Explains the Concept of “Equitable Distribution”
The State of Tennessee is an “equitable distribution state with regard to the division of marital assets in a divorce. Do not confuse “equitable” with “equal.” If the court is forced to divide the marital assets, it will do so in a manner that the court believes is fair, not necessarily equal. When deciding on an equitable distribution of the marital assets, the court may consider the following factors:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities and financial needs of each of the parties;
- The tangible or intangible contribution by one (1) party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
- The relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, depreciation or dissipation of the marital or separate property, including the contribution of a party to the marriage as homemaker, wage earner or parent, with the contribution of a party as homemaker or wage earner to be given the same weight if each party has fulfilled its role; (who contributed more, who performed marital role more, and why)
- The value of the separate property of each party;
- The estate of each party at the time of the marriage;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective;
- The tax consequences to each party, costs associated with the reasonably foreseeable sale of the asset, and other reasonably foreseeable expenses associated with the asset;
- The amount of social security benefits available to each spouse; and
- Such other factors as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
If you are concerned about how your marital assets are likely to be divided in your divorce, take the time to consult with an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney before moving forward with the divorce if possible.
If you are contemplating a divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna divorce attorney as soon as possible at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.