Dividing up marital assets is often one of the most contentious aspects of divorce. Not only do some couples disagree about who should get what, but they may not agree on what the marital assets are.
What is a marital asset in a Tennessee divorce?
Definition of marital property
Tennessee law defines marital property as any personal or real property that one or both spouses obtained during the marriage.
Examples of marital property
Examples of marital property include cash, money in a bank account, intellectual property, pensions, retirement savings, real property and businesses. Debts are also usually considered part of marital property.
Property owned before the marriage
Property owned by one spouse before the marriage is not considered marital property unless the couple designates the property as marital property in a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement or dissipation, commingling or transmutation has occurred.
Dissipation, commingling and transmutation
When a couple comes into a marriage with the separate property but during the marriage, they mix together the property to the extent that the court can no longer separate it, the property becomes marital property.
When a spouse transfers ownership of the separate property to joint ownership by both spouses, this is transmutation. Transmuted property is marital property.
Dissipation is a term for wasteful spending. If a court decides that a spouse has wastefully spent or disposed of an asset, the court may award the other spouse an equitable share of the dissipated property.
Though Tennessee law distinguishes between separate and marital property, it is common for married couples to mix separate property to the point where it becomes marital property and is subject to equitable distribution in a Tennessee divorce.