Gifts and Asset Division in Divorce—It’s ComplicatedDepending on how long a couple has been married, they will likely accumulate various different kinds of property during the marriage. From homes and cars to boats and vacation properties, jewelry and investments. Property and assets that the couple acquires after the wedding and to which they are joint owners is marital property. Marital property is subject to the division of assets process during divorce. Any property that either of the parties owned prior to the marriage is considered separate property, which is not subject to asset division in divorce with a few exceptions.

Marital property in Tennessee

Under Tennessee law, (Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-121) marital property refers to all real and personal property, both tangible and intangible which has been acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage up to the date of the final divorce hearing. Income from and any increase in value of the property during the marriage is also considered to be marital property, which also includes vested and unvested retirement and pension benefits, vested and unvested stock option rights and any other fringe benefits accrued as a result of employment during the marriage.

Separate property

Real and personal property that was owned by a spouse before marriage is separate property. This includes assets held in retirement accounts, property that was acquired in exchange for property owned before the marriage, income from the appreciation of separate property, pain and suffering awards, victim of crimes compensation awards, medical expenses, lost wages, property that was acquired by a spouse after the order of legal separation has made a final disposition of the property, and property that was acquired by a spouse as a gift, bequest, devise or descent.

Does my spouse get a share of my inheritance when we divorce?

Gifts, and inheritance, under Tennessee law, are considered separate property and not subject to asset division. However, if that inheritance is considered by both spouses to be marital property then it will be treated as marital property and divided as if it were. Some examples of separate property being used as if it were marital property might be if the couple used the inheritance money to purchase the family home, if it were deposited into a joint account where both parties had equal access to it.

Equitable distribution of marital assets in Tennessee

Given the fact that Tennessee uses the equitable distribution model for dividing marital assets, if a spouse does go to great lengths to preserve their separate property, and it is a significant sum, it could end up that they might get a smaller share of the marital assets as it is the priority of the court to divide the assets in a way that is equal but not necessarily straight down the middle.

So, as you can see, it gets a little bit complicated. If you are considering divorce and you have a sizable inheritance that you are concerned about you may want to speak to an experienced Franklin divorce attorney who can advise you with regard to your particular situation.

Are you considering divorce, but you have many complicated issues such as businesses and real estate. Our Franklin divorce lawyers can offer legal guidance and strong representation as you end your marriage and move on with your new life. You are welcome to contact the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates today at 615-977-9370 to schedule a consultation. We serve clients from our offices in Brentwood and Columbia and throughout Tennessee.