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Know your assets' classification for an easy division of property

Marital property, defined by law, is any property you obtain during your marriage. Commingled assets become marital property in some cases, too. Define your marital property matters, because it could save you months of hassles in negotiations for items that are in conflict.

Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. That means that your marital property will be split equitably, not necessarily evenly. Once the property is divided into its classifications, you get to negotiate for marital property in an equitable manner.

What does Tennessee law recognize as separate property?

Tennessee's laws recognize all property owned before marriage by you or your spouse as separate property. In cases where the property is used to fund the marriage or to support either spouse or the family, the assets may become marital property. For example, if you have an inheritance for $100,000 in a separate bank account, it's separate property. If it's in your joint bank account, it's marital property.

Property acquired in exchange for property an individual had before marriage is also separate property. For example, if your spouse owns a home and exchanges it for a different property, that property is still separate. Gifts also fall into this category.

Capital gains on property owned before marriage remains separate, as do awards for civil damages, medical expenses or or victim compensation.

What happens to marital property during divorce?

In most cases, spouses discuss their assets with each other and determine how they'd like to divide them. They may consult their attorneys and work out what a fair division of assets is in their situation. If they can't decide, then the case can go to the courts. If that happens, both parties must submit information on what they want out of the marriage and give supporting evidence for their claims. After that's finished, a judge determines how to split the assets.

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