When parties separate, they must deal with the matter of division of property acquired during the marriage. In North Carolina, this division of property and debts acquired during the marriage is called equitable distribution. In this determination, equitable distribution divides marital property, divisible property, and marital debts. Judges are not allowed to divide “separate property.” The distinctions between marital property and separate property are important and seeking out sound legal advice on your rights in an equitable distribution case is essential to getting the results you need.
In the state of North Carolina, it simply doesn’t matter whose income earned during the marriage purchases property acquired during the marriage. Money earned during the marriage is marital in nature, and property acquired between date of marriage and date of separation with money earned during the marriage is likewise marital and subject to division by the court.
Here’s an important consideration: the court can divide marital property unequally if it finds such a distribution to be equitable. Certain factors are set out in North Carolina law. If evidence is presented on these factors during a trial, the judge must determine whether the distributional factors on one side substantially outweighed those, if any, on the other side. If so, the court can divide marital property, divisible property, and marital debts unequally.
However, there is a presumption that an equal distribution is equitable. The entry of a divorce judgment will adversely affect an equitable distribution claim that is not pending and resolved at the time of the entry of the divorce judgment. At Warren Family Law, we will put 30 years of accrued family knowledge and experience to work vigorously for you.
These deliberations can take their toll on families, but we will help you with the evaluation of the division of your marital assets and debts, including, but not limited to, retirement benefits and accounts, stock options, real property, and small businesses—no matter the level of complexity. In applicable situation, we can even draw up Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, which are required by federal law to divide qualified retirement plans and accounts.
The people of Warren Family Law stand ready to serve you in all areas of alimony and spousal support, earning our status every day as a leading family law firm in the Charlotte metro area. We are attentive to your needs, patient in taking the time to educate you on the nuances of alimony and spousal support, and unflinching in our commitment to fight for your needs. Feel free to request a consultation or schedule an appointment today.
who determines what constitutes equitable distribution?
Upon proper application of one party, the court shall determine what is marital property, divisible property, and marital debt. The court shall determine the value of the marital property, divisible property, and the amount of the marital debt. The court shall then distribute the marital property, divisible property, and marital debt.
What is marital property?
In general, marital property is property acquired between date of marriage and date of separation. This is as opposed to separate property which is generally property owned by one party prior to the marriage or acquired by one party and not both during the marriage by inheritance or gift from a third party. Understanding the distinctions is very important and having someone willing to fight for your rights as to both marital and separate property can be vital to your best interest following separation.
If a court determines that an equal division is not equitable, what factors determine equitable distribution?
A number of factors are involved, including:
- Income property and liabilities of each person at the time the division is to become effective
- Obligation of support out of a prior marriage
- Duration of marriage
- Need of parent with custody to occupy or own the marital residence
- The expectation of pension retirement or other deterred compensation rights that are not marital property
- Making payments protecting the marital estate following separation pending resolution or adjudication of the matter upon the merits