Who will divide our property in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, if you and your spouse can agree on how to divide your property, then your agreement will be documented in a “Marital Dissolution Agreement.” If you can’t agree, you’ll have to go to court and the judge will decide how to divide your property.
Judges have a lot of discretion about how to divide marital property. One judge may divide property one way for a couple from Covington, Tennessee, and a different judge might divide property in a different way for a couple from Fayette County, even though both couples have similar situations.
What is an equitable distribution, and is Tennessee an equitable distribution state?
“Equitable” means fair, just, and reasonable, based on the factors set out in the law. Yes, Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. While equitable does not mean equal, most judges will admit that they begin the trial planning to award 50% of the property to each member of the couple and move one way or the other based on the evidence and arguments presented.
What factors does a Tennessee court consider in deciding property division?
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;
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.