Home Family Law Premarital Balances, However Not Features, in Retirement Accounts Have been Separate Property

Premarital Balances, However Not Features, in Retirement Accounts Have been Separate Property


Snodgrass v. Snodgrass, 295 S.W.3d 240 (Tenn. 2009).

Premarital Balances, However Not Features, in Retirement Accounts Have been Separate Property

On this 2009 case, the Tennessee Supreme Courtroom tried to make clear and distinguish its determination in Langschmidt v. Langschmidt, 81 S.W.3d 741 (Tenn. 2002). As soon as salaried staff with Alcoa, Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass have been married for about 23 years.  Each participated in employer-provided 401(ok) plans. Earlier than their marriage ceremony day, his 401(ok) was valued at $54,000.00; hers was valued at $17,000.00. The spouses stipulated that an equitable division of their marital property can be an equal one. Retired after they divorced, his 401(ok) was valued at $2,301,000.00; hers at $691,000.00.

The trial court docket awarded every partner the premarital steadiness of his and her 401(ok) as separate property. It categorised all positive aspects accrued throughout the marriage as marital property and divided it as marital deferred compensation. Mr. Snodgrass appealed.

The Courtroom of Appeals held the trial court docket erred in ruling that each one marital progress on the plans was divisible marital deferred compensation). The Supreme Courtroom affirmed the trial court docket and reversed the appeals court docket, holding the account values on the time of the marriage have been separate property. Web positive aspects on each 401(ok)s throughout the marriage have been marital property.

The Supreme Courtroom honed in on the primary and second clause of T.C.A. § 36-4-121(b)(1)(B). The Snodgrass evaluation went one thing like this: Was a fringe profit, inventory possibility, pension, or retirement plan associated to employment throughout the marriage? If “No” as in Langschmidt (IRAs funded in particular person capability totally with premarital funds earlier than the wedding), then apply the primary clause. If “Sure” as in Snodgrass (employer-employee 401(ok)s funded earlier than and after marriage), then apply the second clause to all post-marital positive aspects. When funded throughout the marriage by means of employment, the online elevated worth of the 401(ok) that accrued throughout the marriage is marital property. The statute at the moment didn’t distinguish between worth added passively and worth added by direct or oblique extra contributions throughout the marriage.

Right here’s how the Tennessee Supreme Courtroom summed it up:

We make clear at present that 401(ok) accounts held by means of a partner’s employer are ‘retirement or different fringe profit rights referring to employment.’ Accordingly, web positive aspects from any supply accruing in such accounts throughout a wedding are all marital property throughout the which means of the second clause of § 36-4-121(b)(1)(B), and it isn’t mandatory to contemplate the relative contributions of the events to the rise in worth. Additionally, we agree with the events that the balances that existed in every of their 401(ok) accounts as of the date of their marriage stay their separate property.  Id. at 255.

The holding in Snodgrass was successfully overruled by the legislature in 2015 when T.C.A. § 36-4-121(b)(1)(B) was amended.   Separate property now consists of any “account steadiness, accrued profit, or different worth of vested and unvested pension advantages, … inventory choices rights, retirement, and different fringe advantages” that accrued earlier than the wedding together with any “appreciation of worth” on that profit. The exception being if every partner considerably contributed to the retirement’s or fringe profit’s preservation and appreciation throughout the marriage (rendering appreciation a divisible marital asset).

This publish is a part of a sequence, Appreciation of Separate Property: The Forensic Accountant’s Full Employment Act.


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