Property Division and Unequal Distribution

When you go through a divorce in Marvin, North Carolina, one of the many issues that must be resolved before the final divorce order is the division of property. During matrimony, it is not uncommon for a husband and wife to accumulate various types of property. This may include more liquid assets such as cash held in checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, or other assets such as real estate, personal property, and stocks and bonds. Following the end of a North Carolina marriage, property that is subject to division includes both assets and debts. Not all property, however, is subject to division upon the termination of a North Carolina marriage.

Marital Versus Separate Property

The process by which marital property is divided in Marvin, North Carolina is pretty universal across not only the state, but the country. The typical allocation of property following the dissolution of a marriage is approximately 50/50 for each party.

Only marital property - property acquired from the date of the marriage until the date of separation - is subject to division. Separate property, on the other hand, or property that was acquired by one of the parties prior to the marriage, is not subject to division upon divorce. The court uses a third category - divisible property - to address any changes in the value of marital property that occurs between the date of the couple’s separation and the date of the divorce. At the time of a divorce, debts are treated the same as assets and are divided according to the type of property under which it falls.

There are, however, certain circumstances in which a North Carolina court will determine that an equal split of marital assets is not entirely equitable. In such a scenario, a court may deviate from an even division and award one spouse more marital property than the other. Some factors a North Carolina family court will consider when determining equitable distribution of marital assets include the duration of the marriage, any obligations of either party resulting from a prior marriage, the health and age of the spouses, and any contribution of one spouse to help with the career development or education of the other spouse.

Equitable Division

North Carolina, like many others in the nation, is an equitable distribution state. Simply put, this means that a North Carolina court will divide the property of a couple going through a divorce in Marvin in a manner that is equitable, or fair. When a court becomes involved in distribution of property, it is assumed that the couple was unable to resolve their disputes on their own. This is because the divorce process gives a couple several opportunities to work through issues involving the separation and come to an agreement that suits both sides.

There are many factors a court will consider when dividing property during a divorce. These include:

  • The spouses’ ages and health;
  • The spouses’ incomes, assets, and liabilities;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The liquidity of the marital property; and
  • How each spouse contributed to, or dissipated, the marital property;
  • Any tax consequences resulting from the distribution; and
  • Any other factor that is just and proper.

While causing the marriage to fail by behaving badly or having an affair does not in and of itself count against the spouse in property division, it can affect alimony.

Benefits of Private Settlements

When a married couple separates, they typically do not want their private lives displayed to the public through a court proceeding. For this reason, private settlement agreements between spouses are often favored, particularly when the two can have equal or unequal property distribution as long as the parties are amenable to compromising. In such a scenario, the parties have more control regarding the final distribution of property and can be creative in crafting a settlement agreement that works for both sides. Once the couple has agreed on a method of distribution of all marital assets, the parties will sign a separation and property settlement agreement - like any other typical contract. A North Carolina court would endorse the order in the divorce decree without expressly naming the specifics of the agreement.

Family Law Attorneys

The experienced North Carolina family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have several years of experience handling property distribution matters both inside and outside of the courtroom. Our skilled divorce attorneys, which include North Carolina Board Certified Specialists, are here to help with all divorce-related matters. Contact us today to schedule your initial case evaluation.