While many contentious issues can arise during divorce proceedings in Tennessee, questions about property shared by separating spouses tend to be the most complicated to answer. Establishing a reasonable financial value for an asset that has appreciated or depreciated over time can be hard. Likewise, everything a couple owns—and owes to someone else—must be accounted for before a judge can sign off on a divorce decree.
Getting through this essential component of a divorce process is much easier with guidance from an experienced divorce attorney. By retaining a knowledgeable Columbia property division lawyer, you will protect your rights and ensure compliance with all applicable state laws for asset disputes.
Marital Versus Separate Property in Columbia
Not every piece of property, financial asset, or debt held by a married person is subject to division by a court in the event of a divorce. The property division process only applies to “marital property,” which state law broadly defines as property obtained by either party while the marriage existed. Marital property may also be acquired by one party before the marriage and then identified legally as jointly owned property during the marriage. For example, if two spouses combine personal financial assets in a joint bank account, they are both entitled to those assets after divorce.
All other property owned by either party individually is “separate property,” including:
- Any real or personal property owned by one party before the marriage and not shared during the marriage
- Property acquired through an exchange before the marriage
- Any gift, bequest, or inheritance
- Income or earnings derived from property owned by one party prior to the marriage
- Property obtained by one party through a court order of legal separation from a prior engagement
- Any damages from personal injury or criminal litigation awards
A couple may voluntarily declare certain assets marital or separate property through a prenuptial contract or similar agreement. A skilled attorney in Columbia could help a couple draft a premarital agreement to avoid any conflicts about dividing their assets.
What is an “Equitable” Division of Assets?
State laws take an “equitable division” approach to property during divorce. For example, a court will divide marital property between two divorcing spouses in what is considered an “equitable” division rather than an “equal” one. While this does not prohibit a court from ordering a 50/50 split of marital assets, it is possible for one party to receive a greater share of property based on their more significant contributions to the marriage.
Other factors that may impact what a court defines as an equitable division of assets include whether one spouse made career sacrifices on the other’s behalf, how long the marriage lasted, each party’s economic circumstances, each party’s physical and psychological health, and tax consequences associated with certain assets or liabilities.
Assistance from a seasoned lawyer in Columbia is vital to accurately divide assets fairly and pursuing a favorable resolution for you.
A Columbia Property Division Attorney Could Help
Determining who takes ownership of assets after a marriage ends can be challenging, especially if the parties involved disagree on the value of their property. Representation from seasoned legal counsel is crucial to resolving property division disputes and ensuring your rights are preserved.
A hardworking Columbia property division lawyer could help you get the case outcome you deserve. Call today to learn more.