In a previous post, we discussed how an issue of paramount importance in most divorces is property division, something that makes perfect sense when you consider the time and energy most married couples invest into building a better life.
In light of this, we started examining the property division process here in Tennessee, focusing first on what the courts consider marital property and, by extension, subject to equitable division. We’ll continue these efforts in today’s post, examining what courts consider separate property, meaning that which is not subject to equitable division in a divorce.
While marital property is broadly classified as any property acquired during the course of a marriage, separate property is much more narrowly defined.
Indeed, state law sets forth six categories of separate property, including:
- Any personal and real property owned by the spouse prior to marriage
- Property acquired by a spouse at any time via gift, devise, bequest or descent (including gifts between spouses)
- Property secured by the spouse in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage
- Income derived from and/or the increase in value of property owned by the spouse prior to the marriage, except when each spouse has substantially contributed to its preservation and appreciation. (In this case, it’s treated as martial property)
- Court awards for pain and suffering, crime victim compensation, future medical expenses and future lost wages
- Property acquired by one spouse after the entrance of an order of legal separation in which the court has provided for a final disposition of property.
Having established how state law differentiates between “marital property” and “separate property,” we’ll conclude this series by examining Tennessee’s equitable distribution property scheme.
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions regarding property division, or another pressing divorce-related matter, such as child custody, child support or alimony.