When you divorce in Tennessee, the law requires you and your about-to-be former spouse to divide your marital property fairly and equitably between the two of you. However, as FindLaw points out, this does not mean that you necessarily need to divide this property in a strictly 50/50 manner.
Fair and equitable has no one-size-fits-all definition. In other words, it means different things for each divorcing couple and their circumstances. In the event you and your spouse have no children and agree on how you will divide your marital property, you can file a Marital Dissolution Agreement with the court.
Keep in mind that only your marital property distribution must pass the fair and equitable test. Any nonmarital property that either of you owns belongs to that spouse alone. Examples of nonmarital property include the following:
- Property owned prior to the marriage
- Capital gains earned on property owned prior to the marriage
- Property exchanged for property owned prior to the marriage
- Property acquired as a gift or inheritance during the marriage
- Court awards for civil damages or crime victim compensation
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a property settlement, the judge will divide your marital property based on numerous factors, including the following:
- The overall value of your marital property
- The amount of tangible and intangible contributions each of you made to the marriage
- The amount of Social Security and other retirement benefits each of you will receive
- Each spouse’s income sources and earning capacity
- Each spouse’s financial circumstances once distribution occurs
- How long your marriage lasted
All in all, the purpose of a fair and equitable marital property distribution is just that: to ensure that neither of you takes economic advantage of the other.