Divorce typically raises many tough issues for couples to address. For younger couples with minor children, the worst of these are usually about child custody and child support. For older couples, though, spousal support and property division are often the toughest nuts to crack anywhere, including Tennessee.
If both spouses cannot agree how to divide their property, then a court will make decisions based on state law. Tennessee law sanctions the equitable distribution of marital assets and property, which can mean a couple must convert some properties to liquid assets for easier division.
Marital property is usually held to be any property or asset acquired during the marriage. In most cases, properties owned separately before marriage are excluded from division. A prenuptial or antenuptial agreement can ensure this more readily.
When deciding on how to equitably divide a couple’s properties, a court will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the ages of the spouses, their physical and mental health, their employability and work skills, their earning capacities and financial needs and assets.
Over the last few decades, many older American couples have been undergoing so-called gray divorces not out of discord but out of financial need. Mounting medical expenses and the need for long-term care often means they must spend down their income and assets to qualify for federal and state medical benefits. Too much property will disqualify someone who still requires financial help.
Because property division for these older couples can often determine whether someone will be able to qualify for Medicaid, spouses might be better off consulting with an expert legal professional who can determine whether staying together or separating is the better financial choice for a couple. In some cases, divorce and property division may be the best solution for their financial problems.
Source: Huffington Post, “Is Divorce the Best Option for Older Americans?” Rev. Amy Ziettlow, March 16, 2015