Property Division

Chattanooga Property Division Lawyers

Factors in Tennessee Property Division Cases 

The end of a marriage is a trying time. It’s also a time when very big decisions are made on how property and assets will be divided. These decisions are influenced by many factors that require an intricate attention to detail. This combination of personal pain and intense financial detail is far from ideal. 

A Chattanooga property division attorney from our office is here to help. Backed by decades of professional experience practicing law, we are here to guide you through all aspects of the process. We will ask the questions you might not think of and explore the issues that you might otherwise overlook being new to divorce and property division, all with the objective of securing a fair property division settlement. 

Request your initial consultation today by filling out our online form or calling (423) 427-4944

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Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property

The reason the division of assets can be so complex is that the state of Tennessee is not a community property state. Our home state does not award both spouses a clean 50/50 split of their combined property. Tennessee is one of 41 states that use the concept of equitable distribution. As the name implies, equity is very much the objective. But the law also recognizes that 50/50 is not always equitable based on the circumstances of an individual marriage. 

This means that if you cannot work out you own settlement, a judge will decide what constitutes equity for you and your spouse. That starts with drawing a distinction between assets each person brought into the marriage and assets that were acquired during the marriage. 

Marital Property vs. Separate Property

On the surface, this division should be easy. If you brought your stock portfolio into the marriage, it’s yours. If you moved into your spouse’s house after the wedding, the home is theirs. If you bought a house together a year after you were married, that’s marital property. The paychecks you earned after the wedding are marital property. 

What if you and your spouse did some kitchen remodeling? Or installed a deck? Or redid the basement to make it a comfortable place for someone to live? These and similar projects are highly likely to substantially increase the value of the house. It’s also highly likely that the work was paid for by money that was earned during the marriage. Are you still ready to concede that your spouse gets the house, no questions asked? Or do you think that your investment in the property should be given due consideration in the settlement? If you think the latter, you understand equitable distribution. 

The complexity underscores the importance of hiring a Chattanooga property division attorney, who must be on the lookout for all the factors that determine what property belongs to the marriage and what belongs to each spouse individually.

The Three Ways Separate Property Becomes Marital Property

Your property can end up belonging to the marriage through commingling, transmutation, or dissipation:

  • Commingling: A relative you had a close relationship with recently passed away and left you some money. Even if this happens when you are married, this is still separate property, unless you took the money and put it into the same accounts as funds that were marital property. 
  • Transmutation: This is like commingling, but more cut-and-dried from a legal perspective. It happens when the classification of property is formally changed. If your spouse puts your name on the mortgage of the house you moved into, the home has been effectively transmuted into marital property. 
  • Dissipation: This is where the court uses spending that it has deemed as “wasteful” to determine an equitable settlement. Ask yourself: After you and your spouse agreed to separate, did they go on a spending spree? Or take an extravagant vacation? These are things that would directly reduce the marital property. As such, a judge may take this into account in determining what makes it an equitable split–perhaps by deducting how much was spent from whatever your spouse might have gotten originally. 

Property & Asset Settlements in Tennessee

The factors discussed above are just scratching the surface of what must be examined in a property division in settlement. Courts will consider the length of time you were married and what your financial prospects are in the future. They will consider whether one spouse stayed home with children. Tennessee law values all contributions to a marriage, be they income-producing or not. It’s the job of the court to sort all that out in property division. And it’s the job of your Chattanooga property division lawyer to make sure your interests are understood, documented, and articulated.

Horton Ballard & Pemerton has attorneys with deep experience in both family law and complex areas of financial law. This background helps us work with you to understand all the value that you brought to your marriage and fight for a fair and just settlement.

Protect Your Rights and Assets During a Property Division

Going through a property division during a divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process. It is crucial to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side to protect your rights and assets. At Horton, Ballard & Pemerton PLLC, we understand the intricacies of property division laws in Chattanooga, TN, and we are dedicated to helping our clients achieve fair and favorable outcomes.

Our team of skilled attorneys will work closely with you to:

  • Evaluate and classify assets: We will thoroughly assess your marital assets, including real estate, investments, businesses, retirement accounts, and personal property, to determine their value and classification as separate or marital property.
  • Negotiate fair settlements: We will advocate for your best interests during negotiations, striving to achieve a fair and equitable division of assets that takes into account factors such as your financial needs, contributions to the marriage, and future financial stability.
  • Handle complex property division issues: If your case involves complex assets, such as high-value properties, business interests, or hidden assets, we have the expertise to navigate these challenges and ensure that you receive your fair share.
  • Protect your rights: We will protect your rights throughout the property division process, ensuring that all legal procedures are followed, and that your interests are safeguarded.

 Reach out to us today so we can talk. You can drop a note here online or call us directly at (423) 427-4944. There’s too much at stake for you not to be in experienced hands right now.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is the difference between marital property and separate property?

Marital property refers to assets that were acquired during the marriage, while separate property refers to assets that were brought into the marriage or acquired before the marriage. Marital property is subject to division during a divorce, while separate property generally remains with the individual who owns it.

Can separate property become marital property?

Yes, separate property can become marital property under certain circumstances. This can happen through commingling, transmutation, or dissipation. Commingling occurs when separate property is mixed with marital property, such as depositing separate funds into joint accounts. Transmutation occurs when the classification of property is formally changed, such as adding a spouse's name to a property title. Dissipation occurs when one spouse wastes marital assets, which can lead to the court considering it as marital property.

What factors are considered in property division settlements in Tennessee?

In property division settlements in Tennessee, courts consider various factors. These include the length of the marriage, the financial prospects of each spouse, contributions to the marriage (both financial and non-financial), and whether one spouse stayed home to care for children. The goal is to ensure a fair and just division of assets based on the specific circumstances of the marriage.

Why is it important to hire a property division attorney in Chattanooga?

Hiring a property division attorney in Chattanooga is important because they have the knowledge and experience to navigate the complexities of property division laws. They will ensure that your interests are protected and that all relevant factors are considered in the division of assets. A skilled attorney can help you achieve a fair and favorable settlement.

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