February 9, 2018
North Carolina makes an important distinction between different types of property that has a big impact on how that property is divided during a divorce. The two main classes of property are separate property and marital property.
Separate property is property that belongs separately to each spouse. This property is kept by the respective spouses, and a court won’t attempt to divide it.
Marital property is distributed equitably between the spouses. This can be an even 50-50 split, but it could be divided in other ways.
Both Spouses Have a Right to Marital Property
Marital property is generally any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. An exception to this rule would apply to certain gifts or inheritances that were specifically designated to one spouse, but not the other.
Debts that were taken on during the marriage would also be divided amongst the spouses. Property that was acquired either before the marriage or after separation will remain separate.
North Carolina law presumes that both spouses contributed to the acquisition of marital property. It doesn’t matter if both spouses worked or only one spouse produced income. Because the other spouse may have foregone employment or training opportunities for the sake of the marriage, the law will divide the marital property between both spouses equitably, without regard to who earned the income or purchased the assets.
Equitable Distribution in Divorce Court
Once all of the marital property and liabilities have been identified and valued, a court will attempt to divide them equitably. A court will evaluate each case on its own merits, so this won’t necessarily results in an equal split.
While each spouse will rightly want their fair share of the marital property, they may also prefer to get title to certain specific assets, such as the marital home. The court has the difficult task of deciding how each asset should be treated.
Of course, the spouses can avoid handing their fate over to the court by coming to an agreement regarding the division of marital property. This is a more cost-effective and less stressful way to allocate the marital property because the spouses—along with their divorce attorneys—are in control of the process.
However, sometimes the stress of a divorce prevents the spouses from agreeing to a property settlement. When this happens, you’ll need a good divorce attorney to present your case in court and make sure your interests are protected.
At King Law Office, we understand the challenges involved in any family law matter. Our goal is to help guide you through this process and listen to your concerns. Come visit us at one of our 12 office locations, including Charlotte, Shelby, and Marion.