Some aspects of property division in a Tennessee divorce are straightforward; others are more complex. Retirement accounts, pension plans, and other long-term savings mechanisms tend to fall into the latter category. A retirement plan, pension plan, IRA or other such retirement account, as well as profit sharing mechanisms and deferred compensation plans acquired during the course of your marriage could be identified as marital property during a Tennessee divorce.
Retirement benefits under an employee pension plan, (despite the plan’s maturity or whether or not you are vested) if acquired during marriage, also constitutes marital property. Any of these accounts acquired prior to the marriage, however, may be classified as non-marital property, though it is not as simple to divide when both spouses contribute to accounts in some way. Prenuptial agreements can also dictate which of these accounts are considered marital property, and which are the sole property of either spouse.
Community property vs. equitable division
Tennessee is an equitable division state. This means that, when negotiating divorce decrees, each spouse cannot necessarily expect an equal (50-50) division of assets, property, and debt. Instead, Tennessee family law courts decide on an equitable distribution of property between spouses based on a number of factors. In order to advocate for your equitable share of marital property, holding on to your personal assets, and your financial best interest, you will be best served with the help of a competent Nashville divorce attorney.
Federal law and Tennessee Code 36-4-121 governs the distribution of marital property, including retirement accounts. When such accounts are part of the marital estate, the courts must decide on an equitable distribution of property. Sometimes, this means that one spouse retains the retirement account, or the other obtains comparable assets. Other times, retirement accounts are part of spousal support or are divided up at the time of divorce. Sometimes, these accounts are divided up in perpetuity, allowing each spouse certain payouts over time. Work with your Nashville family law attorney to decide which of these options is best for you, and to advocate for that in court or mediation.
You or your spouse’s 401(k) or other retirement account could be one of your largest marital assets; it is often subject to equitable property distribution in the state of Tennessee. If you and your spouse agree on the division of this account, you should communicate that in advance of mediation to your attorney. If you contest the proposed division, you will need skilled representation from a qualified and experienced lawyer to aid in your advocacy efforts.
At Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC, you work with dedicated attorneys who understand the challenges which may arise when it comes time to divide high-value retirement accounts. You can rely on our team of experienced Nashville divorce attorneys to help you prepare, and to fight for your goals. Visit us at our Nashville office, located on Woodland Street in historic Edgefield near the courthouse. Call us today at 615-454-9899 or contact us to reserve a consultation.