Generally speaking, in the State of Tennessee, marital property is divided, but separate property is not. All of the property is identified, classified and valued. Tennessee is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that once the property is classified as marital or separate, the trial court has to divide it equitably. T.C.A. Section 36-4-121(c). However, marital property is not always divided 50/50. Instead, it is divided “equitably.”
In certain circumstances, an entire asset could be given to one spouse. However, with the close range of money that you and your wife have, I don’t think that this would occur.
“Separate Property” is all real and personal property owned before marriage, gifts and inheritances.
With regard to “marital property,” the courts look at:
In spite of the “general” statement mentioned above, courts do consider separate property. If one spouse has more “separate” property, then the other spouse will usually be given more “marital” property.
The appreciation of “separate” property during the marriage can become “marital” property. The test is whether the non-owning spouse proves that both spouses substantially contributed to its preservation and appreciation.
Also, if separate property is inextricably mingled with marital property or separate property of the other spouse, then the courts look at it as a “gift” to the marital property, which, as stated above, is divided.
There is also a concept of “transmutation.” This is when there is evidence of an intention that the separate property be marital.
The issues that are of concern to you are complex. So, when and if you get into a divorce situation, call me, because turning separate property into marital property requires a long analysis.