Yours vs. Mine: Marital Property in North Carolina
Going through a divorce is always difficult emotionally. When you add additional stressors to it such as going through the process of marital property division, divorce is even harder.
Fortunately, Mulligan Attorneys can help make this process easier. We’ve been practicing family law in North Carolina for years and have helped many couples navigate the division of marital property. In addition to speaking with a lawyer, it’s also a good idea to educate yourself on North Carolina’s marital property laws so you can understand the process and potential outcomes.
What is Marital Property in North Carolina?
In the course of a divorce in North Carolina, property is classified in different ways depending on when it was acquired and whether it was a gift. It’s also important to note that any debts held, either by the couple or each party as an individual, are included when dividing marital property after a divorce.
All properties and debts in question during a divorce fall into one of the following three categories:
1. Marital Property
Marital property includes any physical property as well as any debt acquired by the couple between the date of their marriage and the date of their separation. Marital property also includes retirement benefits, pensions, and other types of deferred compensation acquired during the same timeframe.
2. Separate Property
Anything owned by either party prior to the marriage or gained/lost after separation is considered to be separate property. Personal gifts and inheritances also fall into this category as long as they are specifically given to one party and not the couple as a unit.
Anything bought with funds resulting from the sale of separate property will also count as separate property, even after separation. For example, if a woman owned a car before she got married, sold it while she was married, and used that money to buy a new car, the new car would remain her separate property after the divorce.
3. Divisible property
Any change in the value of the marital property during the time between the separation and the divorce settlement is considered divisible property. This includes tangible property, debts, and passive income (e.g. rent, interest payments).
For example, if a couple bought a house while married, and the value of that house went up after the separation but before the divorce was finalized, that is considered divisible property.
Dividing Marital Property in North Carolina
With separate property defined as belonging exclusively to one spouse or the other, only divisible property and marital property come into play during the divorce process.
North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means that if the couple cannot amicably agree on how property should be divided, the court must determine how to do so fairly. In many cases, the court decides on a 50/50 split of all marital and divisible property. That said, there are factors that could lead the court to order an unequal distribution of property.
To determine how divisible and marital property should be split between a couple, the court will often factor in the following:
- What the income and expenses will be for each party after the settlement is complete
- Obligations to pay support after a past marriage
- Duration of the marriage
- The health of both parties
- The need of the parent with custody over children from the marriage to live in the marital home
- Additional economic factors pertaining to expectations of revenue from businesses, interest, pensions, etc.
If you are in need of a divorce lawyer in North Carolina, contact Mulligan Attorneys. We can help you with the entire process, from filing the initial paperwork through a resolution, either in or out of court in order to make sure you have the best chance at getting the settlement you deserve. Schedule your consultation online or call us at 910-763-1100 for more information.