During your marriage, you and your spouse accumulate marital assets and debts. If you divorce, marital property is divided between you and your spouse. Our North Carolina divorce attorneys discuss reasons for an unequal division in a divorce and how to protect your rights. This blog is a must-read for anyone going through a divorce in North Carolina.
What Is Equitable Distribution in a Divorce in North Carolina?
When you divorce, you and your spouse can decide how to divide your assets. However, if you disagree, the court decides for you. Marital property is subject to division. Separate property remains the sole asset of the spouse who owns the property.
Equitable distribution is the standard for dividing marital property in a divorce. Many people assume equitable division means an equal division of property. However, equitable means fair instead of equal. The court uses the evidence in the case to decide a fair allocation of marital property. Fair could mean a 50/50 split of marital assets. However, the judge could decide whether an unequal division is fair.
What Factors Do Courts Use to Order an Unequal Division of Property in a Divorce?
North Carolina General Statute §50-20(c) states marital property shall be divided equally using the net value of the divisible assets. However, the court may determine dividing the assets 50/50 is not equitable. If a judge decides an equal property division is not fair, they must consider all of the following factors:
- The property, debts, and income of each spouse when the property is to be divided;
- Support obligations arising from a previous marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, mental health, and physical health of each spouse;
- A need to occupy/own the marital home and the household effects of the parent with custody of the couple’s children;
- The expectation of receiving retirement, pension, and other deferred income that are not included in marital assets;
- A spouse’s equitable claim, interest, or indirect/direct contribution to acquiring marital property not titled in the spouse’s name;
- An indirect or direct contribution by a spouse to the other spouse’s education and/or career;
- A direct contribution to increase the value of separate property that occurred during the marriage;
- The nonliquid or liquid character of divisible property and marital property;
- The difficulty of evaluating a component asset or an interest in a profession, corporation, or business, and the economic benefit to retaining the asset or interest intact and free from interference by the other spouse;
- The tax consequences;
- Acts of either spouse to develop, maintain, expand, or develop marital property.
- Acts by either spouse to devalue, waste, convert, or neglect marital property; and,
- If a spouse dies before the final order is entered, how property will be distributed through the estate.
A judge may also consider any factor they deem just and proper to decide how to divide marital assets equitably. Many factors could convince a judge that an unequal property division is equitable. Seeking advice from an experienced divorce lawyer is the best way to protect your right to a fair division of marital assets during a divorce.
Call for a Free Consultation With a North Carolina Family Law Attorney
A fair property division during a divorce is essential for moving forward with your life. Unfortunately, you might need to fight for a fair share of the marital property. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation to discuss your situation and how we can help.