Tennessee case abstract on marital or separate property in divorce.

Property Owned by Physician Earlier than Marriage Dominated Marital Belongings

Louise Helen Pack Dover v. Norris Lee Dover

The husband and spouse on this Knox County, Tennessee, case had been married in 2000 and had two youngsters.  The husband was an anesthesiologist, and the spouse was principally a stay-at-home mother in the course of the marriage.

The husband had bought the marital residence in 1989, and he additionally delivered to the wedding a cabin property in North Carolina, in addition to different properties.

The husband additionally had a 401(okay) that predated the wedding.

Through the marriage, there had been in depth enhancements to the properties, paid for from the husband’s wage, which was deposited into the couple’s checking account.

The spouse filed for divorce in 2008, and reinstated the proceedings in 2010 after a interval of dwelling collectively once more.

The trial lastly happened in 2017 over a number of days.   A key concern was the classification of the properties.  The trial courtroom held that the marital residence and the North Carolina cabin had been the husband’s separate property, and that no transmutation happened in the course of the marriage.  The trial courtroom did, nonetheless, award the spouse half the price of renovations accomplished in the course of the marriage.  The husband’s 401(okay) was labeled as marital property and divided.

After post-trial motions involving youngster help, each events appealed to the Tennessee Courtroom of Appeals.  The husband argued that the 401(okay) was his separate property.  The spouse, then again, argued that the true properties had been marital property.

The appeals courtroom famous that property held by a partner earlier than marriage was separate property, however that this doesn’t finish the inquiry.  If the spouses deal with the property as joint property in the course of the marriage, then it might turn into joint property by way of transmutation.

On this case, one key issue was that the events used one of many properties as a marital residence, and that there was ongoing upkeep and administration by each events.

For the marital residence, the Courtroom of Appeals shortly concluded that the decrease courtroom had erred.  It centered on the truth that the events had used the property as their household residence, and paid the mortgage and upkeep with marital funds.  The appeals courtroom did  concede that the property was titled within the husband’s identify, however held that the opposite elements outweighed this one.

Equally, the appeals courtroom held that the North Carolina cabin had transmuted.  The courtroom famous that the couple frequented the cabin, and regardless that it was not their major residence, it was supposed as a household trip residence, and had been renovated to accommodate the events’ youngsters.  Additionally, marital funds had been used to improve the property in the course of the marriage.  For these causes, the courtroom held that the property had transmuted.

The courtroom additionally examined one other piece of property and held that it was marital.  Whereas the husband held an curiosity previous to the wedding, it was not acquired in full till the events had been married, and marital funds had been used.

The trial courtroom had held that the husband’s 401(okay) was marital property, however on this level, the Courtroom of Appeals reversed.  After inspecting the proof, it held that there was a big premarital element that the decrease courtroom had not correctly accounted for.  For that reason, it reversed.

After addressing different points within the case, the Courtroom of Appeals reversed partially and remanded the case for additional proceedings.

No. E2019-01891-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 8,  2020).

See authentic opinion for actual language.  Authorized citations omitted.

To study extra, see Property Division in Tennessee Divorce.

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