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On equitable distribution, and the process of property division

Property division comes in two forms. There are 10 states that follow "community property." This form of property division divides property into two classes, marital property and separate property. If something is deemed separate property, then it belongs to the spouse that owns it. If something is deemed marital property, then each spouse has a 50 percent stake in the asset.

Most states follow "equitable distribution," like the state of Tennessee. This form of property division means that a judge will look at the marital estate and determine a "fair" division of the property and assets. This doesn't mean that each asset will be divided equally. This doesn't mean that each spouse gets a 50 percent share in each asset. And it also doesn't mean that your idea of "fair" will match the judge's idea of "fair."

Property division is a difficult topic, even with rules and judges to oversee the whole process. In many cases, spouses take a combative approach to property division. They think "I can't let my ex-wife/ex-husband get that piece of property, otherwise he/she will win!" But "winning" doesn't apply here. A divorce is all about efficiently getting through the legal process of dissolving your marriage, thus allowing you to move on a start a new chapter in your life.

Many spouses are able to put aside their differences and emotions in a divorce so that they can effectively handle property division. Still, you should have a lawyer by your side during the process to ensure you are getting the fairest shake possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Property Division FAQ," Accessed May 26, 2016

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