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 have been married in 2000 and had two kids.  The husband was an anesthesiologist, and the spouse was principally a stay-at-home mother throughout the marriage.

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

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

Through the marriage, there had been intensive 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 befell in 2017 over a number of days.   A key situation was the classification of the properties.  The trial court docket held that the marital residence and the North Carolina cabin have been the husband’s separate property, and that no transmutation befell throughout the marriage.  The trial court docket did, nonetheless, award the spouse half the price of renovations accomplished throughout the marriage.  The husband’s 401(ok) was categorised as marital property and divided.

After post-trial motions involving little one help, each events appealed to the Tennessee Courtroom of Appeals.  The husband argued that the 401(ok) was his separate property.  The spouse, alternatively, argued that the actual properties have been marital property.

The appeals court docket 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 throughout the marriage, then it might develop into joint property by means 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 rapidly concluded that the decrease court docket had erred.  It centered on the truth that the events had used the property as their household dwelling, and paid the mortgage and upkeep with marital funds.  The appeals court docket did  concede that the property was titled within the husband’s identify, however held that the opposite components outweighed this one.

Equally, the appeals court docket held that the North Carolina cabin had transmuted.  The court docket famous that the couple frequented the cabin, and regardless that it was not their major residence, it was meant as a household trip dwelling, and had been renovated to accommodate the events’ kids.  Additionally, marital funds have been used to improve the property throughout the marriage.  For these causes, the court docket held that the property had transmuted.

The court docket 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 have been married, and marital funds have been used.

The trial court docket had held that the husband’s 401(ok) was marital property, however on this level, the Courtroom of Appeals reversed.  After inspecting the proof, it held that there was a big premarital part that the decrease court docket had not correctly accounted for.  Because of this, it reversed.

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

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

See authentic opinion for precise language.  Authorized citations omitted.

To study extra, see Property Division in Tennessee Divorce.

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