In the event that you and your spouse have decided your marriage is coming to an end, understanding how your property is divided in divorce is absolutely crucial. In the majority of states across the U.S. the division of property will fall under the category of what is called " equitable distribution" whereas there are only 8 states that fall under the community property group. Equitable distribution then allows for the spouses to equitably (meaning what is fair rather than equal) divide their marital property. Marital property is defined as anything that the spouses acquired during the time of their marriage and anything that they owned prior to the marriage is considered to be separate property and not subject to equitable distribution laws. Below are a few frequently asked questions regarding the equitable distribution of property in the state of North Carolina.
Does this law mean that the court will divide our property equally? Equitable division of property first off is that which his deemed to be fair for the spouses, not necessarily even. While in most cases the split will be a 50/50 division, there are many circumstances for which the judge will determine that one spouse is in greater need of more property or assets in order to support a specific lifestyle; such as the case when there is child custody involved or an illness, etc.
Is all of my property subject to equitable division? As stated above, if there is anything that you brought into the marriage such as a home, jewelry, inheritance, etc. Then you spouse will not be entitled to partake in these assets in the divorce settlement. Also, once your divorce filing has been made official, anything acquired during that time will not be included either.
How will the court determine what is fair in the division? The goal of this process is to help each spouse receive a fair division of the assets in the event of a divorce. Therefore, the court will access various details in order to determine what is fair for both the spouses according to their various life circumstances. This includes:
- The health and age of each spouse
- The financial status and earning capacity of each spouse
- The details involved in child custody
- Future financial needs and liabilities (ex: life expectancy and future support for illness)
- The total liquid value of the marital property
- Any nuptial agreements made (pre or post marital)
- The contribution each spouse has made (the marital property, education for the other spouse)
- Any maintenance or alimony arrangements
If my spouse gave me gifts, is this separate property? Unfortunately its not, anything that was purchased during the time of your marriage for each other is considered to be marital property, even if it was a surprise gift. There are certain exceptions when dealing with engagement and wedding rings in some cases, however it can be complicating which is why having a Raleigh divorce lawyer on your side is so necessary.
If my spouse and I agree on division terms, do we have to follow equitable distribution? Fortunately, these types of property laws were created in order to help those spouses who refuse to come to an agreement make an official settlement. If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement, you may chose whatever is best in the divorce settlement. In many cases you may want something that has more sentimental value as opposed to monetary worth, and when this is the case, being able to come to an agreement through mediation is always helpful.