Divorce is the breaking of a contract, although to you, it may seem much more personal. Dividing your things from your partner's may feel symbolic of the breaking of promises and plans. Your emotions are high and may swing between anger, grief and everywhere in between.
Because divorce is often painful and difficult, it is not uncommon for spouses to want to hurry it along to get it over with. They may not realize that the decisions made during negotiation or litigation can affect their lives for years afterward. If you are in this situation, you may be struggling to make wise decisions to avoid the common financial errors many couples make during a divorce.
As difficult as it may be, it is important for divorcing spouses to think ahead when they negotiate. Having an understanding of Tennessee laws regarding property division is one place to start. Courts in Tennessee and most other states divide marital property equitably, meaning you and your spouse may not receive an equal share of the assets, but the goal is that you receive a fair share. This is where legal assistance can be critical. It is not always easy to know when your rights are getting fair consideration.
When it comes to money and even real estate, it may be easy to divide it fairly. However, many negotiations break down over sentimental items or if one spouse feels he or she deserves a larger portion of the assets. Mediation may help, and many couples try alternative dispute resolution to avoid having a judge make the decisions for them.
You may want your fair share of assets, but you certainly do not want more than your share of marital debts. Debt in a marriage is similar to assets in that a court will often consider any debt acquired after the wedding as jointly owned, even if only one of you accumulated it. When dividing debts, the court may try to be fair, but you may end up responsible for debts your spouse alone acquired.
Additionally, if a court order requires your spouse to pay debt that also carries your name, such as a mortgage, your credit score is still at risk. The creditor doesn't have to abide by a divorce order, and if your spouse fails to pay, you may still be responsible for the debt. The best option is paying off as many joint debts as possible before you divorce, but this isn't always possible. Your attorney can advocate for debt and asset division that is as fair as possible.