Property Division: An Essential Element Of Divorce

What Is Marital Property

A married couple typically owns property jointly, such as:

  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Valuables and collectibles
  • Household goods, including the contents of a house, garage, and perhaps other buildings or storage containers on or off the property
  • Recreational items such as boats
  • Animals, including pets and livestock

What Is Separate Property

Everything that was acquired during a marriage is usually part of the marital estate. Exceptions include:

  • Separate property that each spouse owned before the marriage and kept apart from the marital estate
  • Any property named as separate property in an enforceable prenuptial agreement
  • Inheritances from family members, kept separate from the marital estate

How A Divorce Results In New Ownership Of Previous Marital Property

Every divorce must ultimately determine which spouse owns each part of what has been a marital estate. Therefore, the first order of business in property division is to identify separate versus marital property. It is also important to disclose and discover all assets of both partners. If you suspect your spouse has hidden assets or if your spouse accuses you of hiding assets, contact an experienced family law attorney.

The Law Office of Joseph S. Ozment, PLLC, offers knowledgeable, results-oriented counsel and representation to people in and around Shelby County, Tipton County, Fayette County and the entire Memphis metro area.

What Is Equitable Property Division?

Dividing assets in divorce is not necessarily a 50-50 split as many people assume it will be. Tennessee statutes having to do with property division take into account factors such as the length of marriage; the financial status of each spouse; each spouse's relative ability to acquire property in the future; contributions to marital property; amount of separate property belonging to each spouse; tax consequences; age, health, skills of each spouse; and contributions made by one spouse to the education or earning potential of the other.

Division Of Debts

A couple's accumulated debts will also have to be divided as part of the divorce settlement. Again, if spouses cannot agree on an equitable division of the collective debt, the court will step in and assign debt obligations to each spouse according to such factors as: who was responsible for the original debt; what was the purpose of incurring the debt; who benefited from the debt proceeds; who will receive the asset connected with the debt upon the division of marital property; and who can better afford to pay the debt.

Bankruptcy And Divorce

Although the divorce decree may state that one spouse will take responsibility for a debt that is in both parties' names, in the event of nonpayment, a creditor can still hold both spouses liable. For this reason, leaving unpaid debts behind after a marriage is over does not necessarily settle the issue. If a bankruptcy is likely, consult with an attorney who handles both bankruptcy and divorce to determine when is the best time to pursue this debt relief option.

Consult With The Law Office Of Joseph S. Ozment, PLLC, For Advice And Help With Property Settlement Or Any Aspect Of Divorce

Get the answers you need about property division in Tennessee. Call Memphis divorce property division lawyer Joseph S. Ozment at 901-410-5947 or email us through this website.

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