Generally, “marital property” means all real and personal property, both tangible and intangible, acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage up to the date of the final divorce hearing and owned by either or both spouses as of the date of filing of a complaint for divorce.
The definition of marital property is found in section 36-4-121 of the Tennessee Code.
In addition to all real and personal property acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage, marital property also includes income from, and any increase in value during the marriage, property determined to be separate property if each party substantially contributed to its preservation and appreciation, and the value of vested and unvested pension, vested and unvested stock option rights, retirement or other fringe benefit rights relating to employment that accrued during the period of the marriage.
Marital property also includes recovery in personal injury, workers’ compensation, social security disability actions and other similar actions for the following: wages lost during the marriage, reimbursement for medical bills incurred and paid with marital property and property damage to marital property.
Separate property is property determined to belong solely to one of the parties and is not subject to equitable division in a divorce.
“Separate property” means:
Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-4-121
In Tennessee the process of dividing the property and debts of a marriage is called Equitable Distribution.
In all actions for divorce or legal separation, the court may equitably divide, distribute or assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital fault in proportions as the court deems just.
First, the court is required to identify and classify all the parties’ property, based upon the evidence presented regarding the nature of the asset or debt. Identification is the assessment of whether husband, wife, or the marital entity has any claim of ownership to any type or item of property. Identification is the preliminary step in which the court determines the full extent of the parties’ interests in all property, and this step precedes the classification of such specifically identified property.
If you and your spouse are able to agree about the division of your property, then your arrangement will be documented with a Marital Dissolution Agreement. If you are unable to agree, it will be necessary for you to go to court. The court will not decide your property distribution case for a period of time as the litigation process moves forward. During that time, the individual with possession of the property will have the use of that property unless the parties agree or a judge issues an order directing otherwise.
Fault is not relevant in an equitable distribution proceeding, except perhaps to the extent that marital misconduct has had an economic impact on the marital estate. Where the equitable distribution factors make it equitable for one spouse to receive more (or less) than 50% of the net marital estate, a court’s award would be unequal, that is, other than 50/50.
Only property determined to be “marital property” is subject to division between the parties in a divorce. In making an equitable division of marital property, the court shall consider all relevant factors including:
Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-4-121