Property Division Attorneys in Tennessee Protect Your Rights
Jackson divorce lawyers focus on your financial future
At Grant & Sain, PLLC, our divorce lawyers are passionate advocates for your rights, and we are determined to do what we can to help you start the next stage of your life on the best terms possible. Few aspects of divorce are more important to your financial future than the division of your marital property. Whether you have a modest home or an extensive marital estate, you want a lawyer who is committed to providing quality representation that delivers positive results. When a partner attorney at Grant & Sain handles your divorce, you can expect personal attention and knowledgeable assistance throughout every phase of the process.
How property division works in a Tennessee divorce
In matters of property, Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. Each spouse gets to keep separate property and then the court is charged with dividing marital assets and debts fairly, but not necessarily equally. The equitable distribution process consists of the following stages:
- Disclosure — Each spouse must file a disclosure of their assets and debts. It is often necessary to use subpoena power to compel complete disclosure, because spouses may try to hide assets.
- Designation — Assets and debts are designated separate (belonging only to one spouse) or marital (belonging to both spouses, so subject to equitable distribution). Disputes often arise over the proper designation of assets that spouses claim are their own separate property.
- Valuation — Marital assets and debts are placed in the marital estate and assigned a value. It’s not uncommon for there to be disagreements about the value of certain property, such as closely held businesses, financial assets, retirement accounts, real estate, and so on. We have vast experience working with experts in the fields of business valuation, forensic accounting, and forensic data recovery to arrive at fair, accurate valuations.
- Distribution — As discussed below, the court examines numerous factors to decide the proper proportion of the marital estate each spouse should receive. We bring to the court’s attention facts that help a judge apply the factors favorably in your case.
The family law attorneys at Grant & Sain understand how important the distribution of your property is to your future financial security. We work meticulously to achieve the best result during your divorce.
What are the rules for separate and marital property in Tennessee?
Under the law of equitable distribution, property includes assets and debts. There are two types of property:
- Separate — Also called nonmarital property, this category includes property owned by an individual before marriage; property acquired in exchange of separate property; income from and appreciation of separate property during the marriage, unless the other spouse contributed to the increase; gifts (except those from the other spouse) and inheritances received during the marriage; certain personal injury damages awarded during the marriage; property acquired after a legal separation but before the final divorce. Separate property is not subject to division by the court.
- Marital — Marital property belongs in the marital estate and is subject to division by the court. This category includes income during the marriage; retirement benefits earned during the marriage; property acquired with marital funds; commingled property; personal injury damages, such as medical expenses; and workers’ compensation benefits that compensate the marital estate.
One spouse has no right to the other’s separate property unless there has been:
- A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement granting rights in a spouse’s separate property
- Commingling of assets, so that separate property is treated as though it were marital property
- Transmutation, the process of transferring personal property to a state of joint ownership
- Dissipation, where one spouse’s wasteful spending of marital assets confers on the other spouse a right to compensation from the spendthrift spouse’s separate property
Because the line between separate and marital property is so often blurred, your attorney must be meticulous in gathering facts that protect your rights.
Factors the court uses when distributing marital property in Tennessee
Tennessee law requires the court to apply the following factors when deciding the relative shares of marital property that go to each spouse:
- The duration of the marriage
- The age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities, and financial needs of each party
- The tangible or intangible contributions one party has made to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other
- The relative ability of each party to acquire assets and earn income in the future
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition of wealth, including contributions as homemaker or parent
- The value of each party’s separate property
- The value of each party’s estate at the time of the marriage
- Each party’s economic circumstances when the division of property takes effect
- The tax consequences of the distribution to each party
- The amount of Social Security benefits available to each
- Any other relevant factors
Adultery and other forms of marital misconduct are not explicit factors mentioned in Tennessee law, but because the law allows the court to consider all relevant factors, there are circumstances where adultery may be relevant. The court does not compensate one spouse with property to assuage the heartache resulting from the other’s infidelity. However, if the wayward spouse has expended marital assets to nurture an affair and reward the partner in that affair, the wronged spouse can recover those losses to the marital estate.
Contact a determined lawyer for your property division dispute in Jackson, TN
Trust Grant & Sain, PLLC, your local family law firm in West Tennessee, to manage the important details of your property division. We serve our divorce clients professionally, capably and personally. To schedule a consultation, call 731-256-7477 or contact our Jackson office online.