Spouses Can Contribute to the Value of Marital Property in Many Different Ways

When most spouses think about contributing to marital property, they assume that these contributions are financial in nature. However, there are many ways that a spouse might contribute to marital property, and these contributions do not always involve money. This is an important thing to remember as spouses approach the equitable distribution process in North Carolina. Showing that you have contributed to the value of a certain property can lead to crucial advantages, and this is something that a divorce attorney in the Tar Heel State can certainly help with.

Financial Contributions

The most obvious type of contribution to a marital estate is financial in nature. This might involve a spouse spending their income on a family home, a vehicle, a vacation home, stocks, retirement assets, life insurance, or any other type of asset. After the initial purchase, the spouse may continue to contribute in a number of different ways – perhaps by paying monthly mortgage fees, home insurance costs, property taxes, and so on. In the case of an equities investment, a spouse might devote a certain percentage of their paycheck to the same ETF each month, for example.

Spouses may also make financial contributions in a less straightforward manner. For example, one spouse might inherit funds from a relative during the marriage. They may then decide to pay off the mortgage of their family home using these funds. This type of contribution can be complex because it leads to a commingled asset that “contains” both separate assets (one spouse’s inheritance) and marital assets (the other spouse’s financial contributions to the home).

Sweat Equity

Another type of contribution is labor. For example, one spouse might decide to conduct various renovations on the family home without hiring any assistance. They may have some basic repair knowledge, or they may self-educate themselves before attempting these renovations. For example, a spouse might replace a kitchen faucet, paint the interior of a home, or even renovate an entire bathroom. Whatever the case may be, there is a legitimate financial value attached to their labor. The renovations may increase the value of the property, and this increase should be accounted for in the property division process.


Spouses may also contribute to the value of the marital estate in far less “direct” ways. One of the most common examples is childcare. This is the typical “stay-at-home parent” situation that many of us are familiar with, and it is common throughout North Carolina. One parent might agree to stay home and look after the children while the other spouse works and earns an income. Even though the primary breadwinner might be earning the money, one might argue that their career success would not be possible without the other spouse.

By taking on childcare responsibilities, the stay-at-home parent frees up the other spouse’s time, allowing them to work and achieve career success. In other words, they are making a “non-financial contribution” to the marital estate that leads to higher earning capacity/net worth of the entire family. While you might not agree with this logic, it is certainly something that family courts in North Carolina will consider when approaching the equitable distribution process.

Maintaining a Property

Finally, a spouse might contribute to the marital estate by staying home and maintaining a family residence, even if there are no children involved. For example, a “homemaker” might spend many hours each week cleaning, cooking, and buying groceries. If the homemaker was not carrying out these tasks, the other spouse would need to take on this responsibility. Therefore, the same argument applies, and this might be considered a non-financial contribution to the marital estate.

Note that the calculations regarding these non-financial contributions can be incredibly complex, and it often helps to work with a qualified divorce attorney in North Carolina to determine exactly how these contributions will affect the equitable distribution process.

Where Can I Find a Qualified Divorce Attorney in North Carolina?

If you have been searching for a qualified divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorcing spouses in the Tar Heel State, and we have considerable experience with complex asset division. We know that equitable distribution can be a little confusing for many spouses – but you are not alone in this process. While internet research serves as a positive first step for many spouses, you can receive more targeted and specific guidance during a consultation. Book your consultation today and get started with an effective action plan.