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Tennessee Marital Property Laws

Marital Property in Tennessee at a Glance

When couples get married, the furthest thing from their minds is how property might get divided in the event of a divorce. Who wants to think of the end of a marriage during their honeymoon? The fact is, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, at which point all property acquired by a couple during their marriage -- called "marital property" -- becomes subject to division. In states with "community property" laws, property acquired during the marriage is often split 50/50.

Tennessee is not a community property state. If you are and your spouse are actually able to agree on who gets what, you may file a Marital Dissolution Agreement (PDF). However, you must agree on everything in the request; not have minor children; not be pregnant; along with other stipulations.

Otherwise, marital property is divided by a judge, who bases his or her decision on a number of factors (more details after the infobox).

Community Property Recognized? No
Dower And Curtesy Dower and curtesy, unless vested, abolished as of April 1, 1977 (§31-2-102)

Note: State laws are constantly changing. So while FindLaw makes every effort to ensure that state laws are current, you may want to contact a Tennessee divorce attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

How Do Divorce Courts Determine Who Gets What in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, judges divide marital property along the lines of "equitable distribution," which is not necessarily equal but takes into account each spouse's needs and means. For instance, a judge will consider the tangible contributions to the marriage made by each party; the amount of Social Security and other retirement benefits available to each party; and the duration of the marriage. Fault is not factored into property division orders.

The value of a given marital asset is determined by the court if the parties are unable to agree, although spouses may testify with regard to property values. Courts often employ an outside appraiser, unless the asset's value is obvious (such a bank account or shares of a particular stock).

What is Not Considered Marital Property?

Not all property acquired during a marriage is considered marital property, including the following:

  • All property owned by a spouse prior to marriage;
  • All property acquired by a spouse in exchange for property acquired prior to marriage;
  • Capital gains (such as property appreciation) on property owned by a spouse prior to marriage;
  • Awards of civil damages, such as those for pain and suffering, crime victim compensation, and medical expenses; and
  • Property acquired as a gift (even from the other spouse) or an inheritance.

Research the Law

Tennessee Marital Property Laws: Related Resources

Learn More About Tennessee Marital Property Laws from a Lawyer

It's not always easy for the courts to determine "who gets what" during the dissolution process. If you need help with marital property issues in Tennessee, it's a good idea to get in touch with an experienced family law attorney near you today.

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