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Property division in Tennessee: An FAQ

Dividing property between you and your former spouse will probably one of the most complicated issues that you deal with in your divorce. The simplest method of dividing property is to consult with your spouse and decide how to split your assets. For many divorcing couples, however, this is not practical: The process is simply too contentious and too legally complicated.

If property division isn’t settled privately, then the matter usually ends up in a court of law. Each state has its own rules and procedures for distributing property between a couple, and Tennessee is no exception. This post will act as a helpful primer on how property is distributed in Tennessee.

What is equitable property?

Tennessee adheres to a method of property division called equitable property. This means that if you and your spouse do not have an agreement regarding the division of property, a judge will decide how the assets should be equitably split between the two of you.

How is it divided?

When the court divides an estate between two people, it does not literally split certain assets in half, physically. Rather, the court determines the total value of the estate and distributes a fair percentage to each spouse.

What is excluded from marital property?

There are certain assets that will not factor into divorce property division, such as:

  • Property that you owned before the marriage
  • Capital gains on property that you owned before the marriage
  • Awards or settlements from lawsuits
  • Property acquired as a gift or an inheritance

Who gets what?

One of the most quarreled-over questions in a divorce is who gets to keep what. Generally, a judge will decide who gets which assets based on each spouse’s needs and means. 

What influences the court’s decision?

Some of the factors that influence a court’s ruling on property division include the monetary contributions that each of you made to the marriage, the amount of retirement benefits available to each of you, and the length of the marriage. In Tennessee, one party’s fault or lack thereof will not affect the court’s property division ruling.

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