Tennessee Property Division Factors

In Tennessee, the property and debt issues are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or the property award is actually order and decreed by the County Court within the Final Decree of Divorce.

Tennessee is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the County Court will take the following approach to dividing the assets; First, it will go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt is to be considered marital. Next, it will assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt. Last, it will distribute the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is deemed by the County Court to be fair.

Tennessee defines separate property as: (A) acquired prior to marriage; (B) by gift or inheritance; (C) in exchange for any separate property, or (D) obtained from income or appreciation of separate property, if the other spouse did not contribute to the preservation and appreciation.

Tennessee defines marital property as: (A) any property acquired during the marriage by either spouse; (B) any increase in value of any property to which the spouses contributed to the upkeep and appreciation; and (3) any retirement benefits.

The court will consider, with taking into account marital fault, the following factors when dividing the property: (A) the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, or dissipation of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker, wage-earner, or parent; (B) the value of each spouseís property at the time of the marriage and at present; (C) the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective; (D) the length of the marriage; (E) the age and health of the spouses; (F) the vocational skills of the spouses; (G) the liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income; (H) the federal income tax consequences of the courtís division of the property; (I) the present and potential earning capability of each spouse; (J) the tangible and intangible contributions made by 1 spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse; (K) the relative ability of each party for the future acquisition of capital and income; (L) the employability and earning capacity of the spouses; (M) any social security benefits; and (N) any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses. (Tennessee Code - Volume 6A, Title 36, Sections 36-4-121)

Since Tennessee is an "Equitable Distribution" state, all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses. What does "equitable" mean? Equitable can be defined as "what is fair, not necessarily equal." To automatically believe the marital property would be divided 50-50 would be a wrong assumption in any equitable distribution state. You can also read more about Tennessee property division in the Tennessee state statutes located at: