Divorce is stressful for both spouses. Although family courts have an orderly process ending in equitable distribution of the couple’s assets, common issues can arise during asset division in Chattanooga cases.
After the court decides whether there are grounds for a couple to divorce, the court helps the parties identify, value, and divide their property. A dedicated property division attorney could explain your duty to identify and preserve property and how procedural problems can be addressed.
Equitable distribution is the fair and reasonable division of marital property between the divorcing spouses. Notably, equitable does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split.
The court considers several circumstances in these cases, such as whether one spouse is raising a minor child while the other spouse builds their career. For instance, the court can award more assets and financial support to the spouse who makes less to compensate for the dramatic change in lifestyle they might face once divorced.
The spouses must identify marital and separate property, as separate property stays with the spouse who originally owned it, and marital property is equitably split. Marital property can include real and personal property, such as real estate, furniture, vehicles, and intangible assets.
Occasionally a spouse might try to hide or divert marital assets for personal advantage. If a party has concerns, a local attorney could hire a private investigator or forensic accountant on their behalf to track a paper trail and any lifestyle changes the suspected spouse has made.
If an asset comes to the marriage through one partner but is contributed or comingled, the courts might determine the property was converted from separate to marital and equitably split it during a divorce.
Both spouses can testify about the value of marital property, which is crucial to the judge allocating it equitably. However, this is more easily accomplished with tangible property; for example, the value of the marital home is easily determined.
Conversely, a forensic accountant or expert witness may have to determine the value of items such as fine art, the goodwill in a family business, company stock options, or professional practices such as accounting, medical, or legal.
Once family judges have a list and valuation of marital and separate property, they must decide how to disburse it equitably between the divorcing parties. One of the most common issues with distribution is who gets the marital home.
The judge has the following choices:
In determining the disposition of a home, the judge will also consider if minor children are involved and how disrupting them will affect them.
Although family courts have protocols that govern dividing assets during a divorce, many issues often arise, and each case should be regarded on its own merits.
If you are facing a divorce and have questions about assets you believe you alone own, how asset distribution works, or you have an issue with a spouse who may be hiding assets, reach out to our Chattanooga office. A skilled legal representative can explain the common issues that arise during asset division in Chattanooga and help you resolve any concerns you might have.