Not All That is Equitable is Equal – NC Divorce Law
Divorce is a complicated process, not only on a personal level, but especially from a legal standpoint. One thing many separated couples in Carteret County don’t realize is that North Carolina follows an equitable distribution law when it comes to marital property, but equitable distribution doesn’t always mean that property and debt is split 50/50.
Here are some things you need to know:
In equitable distribution states like North Carolina, all property is subject to equal or unequal distribution. So, if spouses are unable to resolve property rights on their own, the court determines what is fair and reasonable for each spouse. We always aim to divide assets and debt through mediation, but in certain cases, a court decision is necessary to reach decisions as to valuations of property and debt, and distribution.
Equitable distribution states also recognize separate property, or property that belongs to one spouse and not the other, including inherited property, property acquired prior to marriage, or gifts to one spouse by a third person. Under our law, if the property or debt is deemed to be separate, the spouse receives it, regardless of its value.
It is important, though, to understand that equitable does not always mean equal. The law assumes that an equal, 50/50 division of marital property and debt will be equitable unless factors exist to disprove that. Several factors can come into play that determine the division of the assets when the court is involved, including how long the couple was married, age, physical and emotional health, economic circumstances, the standard of living during the marriage, and needs of the spouse who has physical custody of children. The court will not consider adultery, domestic violence, abandonment, or drug or alcohol use if present in the marriage, when valuing and distributing assets and debt.
Because the equitable division of assets can be very complex, we recommend that you hire a family law attorney to protect your rights and ensure that your documents are properly prepared and executed. Schulz Stephenson Law is prepared to answer your questions about equitable distribution in Carteret County, Craven County, and Pamlico County NC, including the communities of Morehead City, Beaufort, Newport, New Bern, and Bayboro.