Divorce Laws in Tennessee - Keeping the Home

By Wayne Thomas

The marital home is often a complicated asset with which you must deal during divorce. In Tennessee, as in other states, a couple is free to come to an agreement on which spouse should continue to live in the house or whether they want to sell it. If parties cannot agree, the court makes the determination based on the principles of equitable distribution, or fairness. In most cases, the property is not sold against the parties' wishes unless marital debts are high, or both spouses' incomes are too low to justify keeping the home.

Equitable Distribution

Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. This means that when a couple cannot agree on the division of marital property, the court divides most property acquired during the marriage fairly between the spouses, which does not always result in an equal division. A home that was owned before the marriage generally remains with the spouse who acquired it. However, if the other spouse contributed to an increase in the value of the home, the dollar amount of the increase can be subject to division by the court. For example, if a spouse's income contributed to the building of a deck on the property, raising the value of the home by $10,000, that $10,000 is subject to division during the divorce proceedings.

Child Custody

In determining which spouse should continue to live in the marital home, courts in Tennessee are required to give special consideration to the parent that is awarded primary custody of the children in the divorce. This is to minimize the disruptive impact of the divorce on a child so the child can maintain ties to his school and community. However, a judge is not required to award the home to that parent, particularly if other considerations would make this award unfair.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Special Needs

As part of making a fair division, a factor that the court must consider is any specific needs of either spouse. In cases where one party has a disability or mental illness, and the home has been specially equipped to meet these needs, a judge may be more inclined to have that spouse remain in the property. An example might be if one spouse is confined to a wheelchair and the home has a ramp and other accessibility upgrades.

Other Considerations

As part of equitable distribution in Tennessee, the court must also divide marital debts. If your home has mortgages, the court may decide to order your spouse to share in the responsibility of paying the mortgages until the house is sold even if you are living in the home, or that your spouse take on a larger share of other debts, such as credit card debt. Further, the court can consider requests for spousal support, also known as alimony, after the property is divided. Alimony payments take into account property division and are based on one spouse's needs and ability of the other spouse to pay. Support may be appropriate where there are significant upkeep expenses for the home and the party not living in the home has the ability to contribute toward them.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
The Primary Residence in a Divorce


Related articles

What Is Property Division in Georgia Divorce Law?

The acquiring and sharing of possessions is one of the many benefits of marriage. For that reason, it is not surprising that the settling of property matters can get highly contentious during a divorce. When parties cannot reach an agreement in Georgia, the court determines the division of all marital property.

Shared Property Divorce Laws in Ohio

According to Ohio law, divorce is a civil lawsuit to end a marriage that occurs when the husband and wife cannot agree on how to resolve their problems; the court makes the final decisions concerning property division, spousal support and child custody. This differs from a dissolution of marriage, which, according to Ohio law, occurs when the parties mutually agree to terminate their marriage. Neither party has to prove grounds to end a marriage by dissolution. If spouses share property, they should understand the legal standard followed by the court when dividing their property in the event of a divorce. In Ohio, state laws use the term "marital property" when describing property to which both spouses may share rights.

Who Gets the Apartment in a Divorce in New York?

During a marriage, both spouses can become emotionally attached to a residence. If the couple decides to divorce, neither spouse may want to go through the burden of uprooting and looking for a new place to live. Knowing the authority the court has in determining which spouse will own or have the right to occupy an apartment, will help reduce some of your uncertainty heading into divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Happens in a Divorce When the House Is Paid Off?

During divorce, spouses can agree on how to divide their marital property or allow the court to divide it for them ...

Texas Divorce Laws on House Disputes

Because Texas is a community property state, courts in Texas generally divide property equally following a divorce. ...

Ohio Divorce Law on a House in a Spouse's Name

In Ohio, marital property is subject to equitable distribution in divorce cases. For many couples, the family home is ...

Divorce & an Underwater Mortgage That a Spouse Refuses to Sell

Divorcing in tough economic times can be a real challenge. Often, a couple’s most valuable asset is their home. When ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED