Divorce isn’t just about dividing your life from your spouse’s life. It’s also about dividing your property and financial assets. Even when a couple hasn’t acquired much property or hasn’t invested in savings, stocks, or a retirement plan, dividing marital property can be complicated and contentious. If you’re considering divorce, have started the process, or have been served with papers, you need an experienced divorce attorney on your side while working through the division of marital property and assets.

At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, you will find an advocate dedicated to guiding you through the entire divorce process, including the division of marital property. Successfully navigating these legal challenges can have a lasting impact on your future, and I want to set you up for success. I proudly serve clients in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and surrounding areas, including Red Bank, East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, Hamilton County, Marion County, Sequatchie County, Rhea County, Bradley County, and Bledsoe County.

Yours, Mine, and Ours: Marital Property vs. Separate Property

In Tennessee, marital property is subject to division in divorce. Separate property is not. While that may sound easy, determining what is marital and what is separate isn’t always black and white.

  • Marital property includes all real property and personal property, tangible and intangible, acquired by either or both spouses during the course of marriage up to the date the divorce is final, and any property to which a right was acquired up to the date the divorce is final. This includes items such as homes, businesses, boats and vehicles, cash, investment and bank accounts, retirement accounts, and pensions. It can also include items such as personal injury or workers’ compensation settlements and social security disability.

  • Separate property includes real and personal property owned by a spouse before marriage, including assets held in IRAs, some inheritances and gifts, payments for future medical expenses or lost wages, and property acquired during the marriage in exchange for property acquired prior to marriage. In general, this would include property or money you inherited or items such as that rare book collection you built before your marriage. However, if you put that inheritance money into a joint bank account or continued to build that book collection with household income throughout the marriage, separate property can become marital property.



How is Property Divided in Tennessee?

Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. This means that all marital property will be divided fairly after considering all legal factors that are relevant and unique to the divorcing spouses. Each party can keep their separate property. Some factors the court considers to ensure equitable asset division include:

  • The duration of the union

  • The tangible or intangible contribution by both parties

  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition and preservation of the property

  • The age, vocational skills, mental and physical health of each spouse

  • The learning capacity, employability, estate, financial liabilities, and needs of each party

  • The value of the separate property

  • The tax consequences to each party

  • The available social security benefits to each party

Who Determines How Assets are Divided?

Who determines what is marital property or separate property, the value of marital property, and how marital property is divided depends on whether the divorce is uncontested or contested.

If you and your spouse agree on the division of your marital property, and all other provisions of your divorce, including child custody and spousal support, you can both sign a Marital Dissolution Agreement and submit it to the court for approval.

If, however, you and your spouse are unable to agree, your divorce is contested which means the court will determine how your assets will be divided.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

In an uncontested divorce, I can help you keep your separate property, determine whether assets are marital or separate, help make sure you get what you’re entitled to, and help assign value to your assets and your contribution to them.

In a contested divorce, I will help present your case to the judge who has the final determination of what you keep and what you have to give up.


At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I have helped clients in Chattanooga, TN and the surrounding communities with their asset division matters. I will use my experience and expertise to guide you through decisions and explain your options. Whether you’re thinking about divorce or in the process of getting one, let me help you keep what’s yours. Call today for a free consultation.