Murfreesboro Property Division Law Firm
Equitable Division of the Marital Estate
In Tennessee, the court is to divide the marital estate, meaning property acquired during the marriage, in an equitable manner by statute. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal or a 50-50 split of assets. Several factors are examined by the court to determine what is an equitable division given each party’s particular circumstances. These factors include income of the parties, separate assets of the parties, contributions to the estate by each party, the needs of the parties, and other relevant factors.
At Kidwell, South, Beasley & Haley, our Murfreesboro property division lawyers explain equitable division of property and how it will affect a specific divorce.
The property claims of the parties are evaluated through a three-step process. The first step is to identify all of the assets of the parties. The next step is to correctly classify each asset as marital property or separate property. The third step requires an equitable distribution between the parties.
Marital property includes all property that is acquired during the marriage, unless such property was acquired under certain conditions such as by gift or inheritance, or acquired in exchange for separate property of an individual spouse.
One of the most common questions concerns the marital residence. The most common ways that real estate is distributed during a divorce are: the house is put on the market and the parties split the proceeds and/or debt resulting from the sale, or one party keeps the house and removes the other party from the mortgage and pays the other party for his/her share of the equity in the house. This can be a very difficult procedure and normally requires appraisals and discussions by the parties with loan officers. Our experienced attorneys can help you protect any equity that you may have.
Many parties are surprised to learn that retirement accounts can be considered marital property and divided as such. Our attorneys are experienced in determining the value of retirement accounts and advising our clients how the court will likely divide such assets.
Our attorneys who are experienced with these issues will follow through this three-step process to ensure you receive all property to which you are entitled.
Separate property is property owned by an individual before marriage, acquired by the individual through gift or inheritance, or in exchange for other property that would be considered separate property. Separate property can become marital property in a number of situations. For example, when separate property has increased in value during the marriage, the appreciation is marital property if both spouses substantially contributed to its preservation and appreciation. Another manner in which separate property commonly becomes marital property is when money is commingled or transmuted in a joint account.
Valuation of Property
The parties have the burden of proving the value of the property. This can be done through their own testimony, documents, expert witnesses, or any other means that will demonstrate the value of the property. The property should be valued as near to the date of the hearing as possible.
Along with the property, the court also has to allocate the marital debts in an equitable manner. All debt incurred during the marriage is marital debt. To divide the marital debt, courts use the following factors: which party incurred the debt, the purpose for which the debt was incurred, which party benefited from the debt, which party is best able to assume the obligation to repay the debt, and how the assets are allocated. In most circumstances, the debt is allocated to the party receiving the asset for which the debt was incurred.
Our law firm has the experience and insight to find hidden assets — those assets that one spouse may be attempting to hide from the other spouse. We will work with other professionals and experts, if deemed appropriate and necessary by our clients, to locate all marital assets. We certainly will use all discovery tools available.
Tennessee Equitable Distribution Attorneys: 615-893-1331
Dividing marital property can be a hard-fought issue in a divorce. Be sure you have an attorney who will stand by you and assure you of a fair and equitable division of property. Contact us for an appointment.