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What property can I keep in my divorce?

Property division can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. Money and assets can take on a whole new meaning when they will be divided between you and the person you are divorcing. Besides the anxiety associated with financial stability after a divorce, you can also be struggling with overwhelming feelings of anger, betrayal, sadness and frustration which can cloud your ability to be objective.

During this time, it can be very difficult to accurately assess the situation and understand what exactly you may be able to keep -- and what you may lose -- in your divorce.

To begin with, you will need to come to terms with the fact that your marital assets (those you acquired during the marriage) will be divided in accordance with equitable distribution laws. This means that they will be divided based on what is fair, not equal; this will be based on the court's decision after taking into account factors like each spouse's contribution to the marriage.

However, not all the assets will be eligible for distribution. Those assets that are considered to be separate will remain with the spouse who owns them as an individual. These assets can include:

  • Money or property acquired by an individual before the marriage
  • Inheritances given to only one spouse
  • Gifts acquired, even during the marriage, by just one person
  • Money earned through separate investments or businesses

This list is by no means comprehensive and exceptions do exist; there are many cases where people believe certain assets are separate but, due to certain factors, are actually considered to be marital. However, this can give people some reassurance that in general, separate property will not be divided.

Disputes over what is and is not considered separate property can turn bitter quite fast, so it can be crucial to have an attorney by your side who is familiar with Tennessee property division laws. Protecting your assets can be more complicated and contentious than you may think, so being prepared and having support as you head into the process can be quite beneficial.