Divorce can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, causing physical, emotional and financial concerns regardless of whether it’s an amicable split or contested. Spouses going through a divorce have to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.

One important thing to remember for people going through a divorce here in Tennessee is not to try to soldier through the process alone. Finding an experienced and compassionate family law attorney can help you understand your rights when ending your marriage.

How is property owned by both spouses divided?

Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is divided “equitably,” but that doesn’t mean it will be a 50/50 split, and a judge must approve the distribution. However, spouses often agree on how to divide their property.

Divorcing couples often negotiate over the possessions they acquired during their marriage. One spouse may keep the family home in return for the other receiving a car, boat or other items. Another method is to sell the marital property and split the earnings. In other cases, arbitration or mediation may be the best option.

Who is responsible for debts?

Paying off debts incurred during a marriage can sometimes be more complicated than dividing the property. Know who you owe and how much and order a credit report from each of the three reporting agencies. That will break down everything owed in your name. Try to address the debt before a divorce by:

  • Paying off balances: This can be the best option, if possible, and can be done by using savings or selling assets.
  • Bartering: Agree to take on a more substantial portion of the debt in return for receiving more assets when the property is divided, or let your spouse take a larger chunk in return for more marital assets.
  • Sharing equally: While this option may seem fair, it leaves both parties more financially vulnerable, and you may be responsible for the entire amount if your ex doesn’t pay their fair share.

Understanding your rights during a divorce is critical

Divorce can bring out the worst in some, and you should be prepared in case your spouse tries to take advantage by hiding assets or underreporting their income. The best way to avoid a contentious situation and financial disadvantages is through preparation and knowledge. An experienced family law attorney here in Tennessee can answer all your questions about the legal process and help you get to the next chapter for a secure and improved future.