If you face a divorce or legal separation from your spouse, dividing your marital property is a task you must complete before a judge issues your decree. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the judge will decide for you. Although dividing marital property can be contentious and stressful, working with your spouse to come to an agreement keeps some of the control in your hands. Forcing the judge to decide might lead to a plan that does not work well for you or your spouse.
A Red Bank property division lawyer could explain the law governing marital property in the state and assist you as you negotiate an agreement. If you and your spouse reach a consensus, a seasoned family attorney could formalize it in a document to submit to the court, ensuring your decree reflects your agreement.
Couples deciding to live apart must divide their marital property, but they each retain the right to separate property. Although it seems straightforward, deciding whether property is marital or separate can be complicated and contentious. A Red Bank asset division attorney could help a spouse distinguish marital property from personal property.
Marital property is anything the couple acquired together or separately with income earned during the marriage. Any property that a spouse brought to the marriage as separate property but was commingled or treated as joint property could be considered marital property in a divorce.
For example, if a spouse owned a condo in a vacation spot before marriage and kept the title in their name alone, it still could be considered marital property if the couple used it as a vacation home or spent money they earned during the marriage on its upkeep. If they rented out the home, the income it generated would be marital property. If the condo’s value appreciates, the increase is also marital property.
Tennessee Code Annotated §36-4-121 calls for an equitable split of marital property, considering all relevant factors. Sometimes an equitable division is close to a 50/50 split, but it need not be equal to be equitable.
Often, certain property is important to one spouse for reasons other than value. When a couple negotiates a property division agreement, they could accommodate those preferences. If a court must decide property division, it considers, among other factors, the:
Courts try to ensure that neither party will suffer a significant change in lifestyle after a divorce, especially if the spouses have minor children. In addition, courts try to maintain stability for the children. Accordingly, courts often award the family home to the spouse who will be the children’s primary caretaker.
Both spouses must disclose all liabilities and assets when they seek a legal separation or divorce. Although only marital property is subject to division, the value of a spouse’s personal property could influence the marital property division.
Sometimes a spouse is concerned about losing something they devoted considerable effort toward building or acquiring. A property division plan could accommodate a spouse who owns a business, has valuable collections, or has other property of significant sentimental value. In such instances, a proactive property division lawyer in Red Bank could develop a plan that permits the spouse to retain full ownership by providing the other spouse with something of similar or equal value.
However, the Tennessee state law requires full disclosure and accurate valuation of all assets. If a spouse tries to hide or undervalue assets to avoid equitable distribution, they risk significant sanctions. A judge could find the individual in contempt of court and impose fines or even jail time. A perjury charge could follow. In addition, when a judge discovers a spouse tried to commit fraud, they often will award the other spouse a significantly larger share of the marital property than they might have been entitled to in different circumstances.
Dividing property can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, and it can certainly be the most complicated. While it is beneficial if you and your spouse can develop a property division plan together, do not try to do so without legal advice.
A Red Bank property division lawyer could explain the principles of equitable distribution, help you value your property, and assist during negotiations. Reach out today to speak with a local legal professional.