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Understanding equitable distribution in Tennessee divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Asset Division, Divorce In Tennessee |

Dividing property can be one of the harder challenges of divorce in Tennessee. Even with the most compromising couple, there are bound to be disagreements about who should get what.

Most Tennessee divorce courts use the theory of equitable distribution to determine how property is split. Equitable distribution is the theory that – unless couples can reach their own compromise – any property that the couple jointly acquired during the marriage should be split 50/50.

Why is equitable distribution used?

Equitable distribution is used to protect the interest of both parties during a divorce. Using equitable distribution, couples are forced to split shared assets equally instead of fighting over them.

In theory, each person would leave the marriage with what they came into it with and half of what they bought with their partner. However, this theory doesn’t always work for couples who have been married a long time or share children.

What are the exceptions to equitable distribution?

Both parties are allowed to negotiate and compromise when splitting the properties or assets isn’t in their best interest. For example, under equitable distribution, both the house and the dog would have to be sold with the profits being split between the divorcing couple.

But selling the dog is often out of the question and selling the house can have a huge negative impact on children. So divorcing couples negotiate and try to reach a compromise.

What happens if we can’t compromise?

If no compromise can be met, the court will decide for the couple using the equitable distribution theory. However, there are cases when they would ignore this rule in favor of fairness – such as rewarding the house to whichever parent has custody.

Mediation can help divorcing couples make decisions and come to agreements outside of court. But it’s safe to assume that if you can’t make a decision, the court will always make it for you.