Differentiating equitable vs. equal property division

The common school of thought regarding property division in Nashville is that all marital property will be distributed equally amongst both sides in a divorce case. Most assume this to be ture because it is required by law. While there may indeed be many cases that see a divorcing couple evenly share their assets, there is actually nothing in the state’s statutes stating that marital assets must be shared equally. Tennessee follows the equitable distribution model when dealing with property division cases. While “equitable” and “equal” certainly sound similar, many are surprised to learn that they are not the same thing.

Per the Cornell University Law School, equitable distribution calls for all marital assets to be divided up fairly. This allows for the court to take certain factors into account when determining what to award in a divorce case. Such factors can include an individual’s constribution to to the head of a marriage. For example, if one spouse was involved in an adulterous affair, the court may choose to allot an extra portion of a couple’s shared debt to him or her. The same may be true if one has accrued substantial debts; the court may simply choose to make the repayment of them the responsibility of the one who accrued them.

When preparing to divvy out marital property, people inevitbaly ask what qualifies as such. The guidelines designating what is and is not marital property in Tennessee can be found in Section 36-4-121 of the state’s Domestic Relations Code. Per the law, any real or personal property acquired during one’s marriage (and up until their formal hearing) is thought to be martial property and this subject to property division.