If your marriage is ending, one of your foremost concerns is probably whether you will lose your home, your retirement accounts and other assets you have spent a lifetime accumulating. In North Carolina, the court divides marital property equitably (fairly, but not necessarily equally) in a divorce.
Explore the elements of marital property and equitable division to protect your assets before pursuing divorce in North Carolina.
What constitutes marital property?
North Carolina distinguishes between marital property and divisible property. Anything you purchase, earn or otherwise acquire from the marriage date to the separation date falls into the marital property category, including debts accrued.
Divisible property includes anything acquired by either party after the separation date but before you and your spouse sign the divorce agreement. This often includes bonus or commission checks for work done during the marriage, finance charges for marital debt and interest or dividends from investment accounts. Debt accrued by either party during this period does not constitute marital debt.
What factors play a role in property division?
When spouses are unable to agree on equitable property division, the court allocates divisible property and debt. The judge will consider factors such as the following:
- The age of each spouse
- The income and earning potential of each spouse
- The physical and mental health of each spouse
- Contributions to the marriage, including financial earnings and accumulated debt as well as child-rearing, cleaning, cooking, housekeeping and other domestic tasks
- The length of the marriage
- Custody of minor children where applicable
- Tax consequences of property and debt division
Although marital misconduct such as having an affair does not factor into property division, it does impact whether or not the person will have to make spousal support payments.
The court has significant discretion in applying the equitable distribution standard. You must advocate for fair asset division when a divorce is contentious and you and your spouse are unable to agree on how to divide property and debts.