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How Equitable Distribution Is Determined In North Carolina

Most divorces involve the division of marital assets and debts. For this, you will need the counsel of a reliable attorney based out of the Raleigh or Triangle area. At Daphne Edwards Divorce & Family Law, PC, our attorney is here to represent you.

What Counts As Marital Property And Separate Property?

Marital property refers to the real property and personal assets acquired after the date of the marriage and before the date of legal separation. In a North Carolina divorce, courts must divide marital assets equitably, but not necessarily 50-50. Judges usually distribute property to the spouses based on the value of it. An example: If you and your spouse have your names on the title of a home worth $500,000, each party could receive $250,000 in an equitable division.

Conversely, separate property is the property and assets acquired before the marriage. Inheritances and gifts generally count as separate property. Any property that the court deems separate property is not subject to division in a divorce. If your spouse wishes to dispute that property acquired during the marriage is separate property, then the burden of proof will fall on you.

What Is Divisible Property?

If you or your spouse acquire real property or personal property after the date of your legal separation, then it generally will count as divisible property. Common examples include interest and dividends that accrue after your date of separation. These are subject to equitable division.

What Is Mixed Property?

Some property counts partly as separate property and partly as marital property. It might have started out as separate property but, over the course of the marriage, changed ownership. It may also be property that changed in a way that created marital interest, such as attaching an addition during the marriage to a home that was in only one spouse’s name before the marriage.

What Is The Property Division Process Like?

There are four steps in any equitable distribution matter:

  1. Identification
  2. Classification
  3. Valuation
  4. Distribution

First, you must identify all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Such assets can include:

  • The marital home
  • Other real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Stocks
  • Investment accounts
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Household furniture

Martial debts are identified as well, including credit card debts or other loans. If you have a prenuptial agreement, the court will look into its terms. After classifying the property, the court will value it. All assets and debts will be given a fair market value as of the date of separation. Thus, the court will determine the net value of the marital property on the date of separation, and that net value will be subject to division. All marital property and divisible property will be subject to division upon separation and divorce, while separate property will remain separate and will not subject to division. If mixed property is involved, you will need to determine the marital interest in such property.

The court will distribute the property equally after it has been valued unless an equal division is not equitable or fair. In determining whether an equal division is fair, the court will consider 16 factors, including the duration of the marriage, the contributions of each party, the tax consequences, the contributions to an increase in the value of separate property, and the income, property and liabilities of each party. Attorney Daphne Edwards can help you through this process.

Discuss Your Rights Regarding Property Division

Ready to discuss equitable distribution in divorce? To schedule your initial consultation, reach out by calling 919-891-8552 or reach us through our online contact form.