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Equitable Distribution in Divorce: What is Mine is Not Necessarily Yours

Posted on in Family Law

Raleigh divorce lawyerDivorce proceedings can be distressing, but the situation can become hostile once the division of property is determined. Like most states, North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. The term “equitable distribution” evokes straightforward division; however, there is a myriad of complexities, such as devalued or hidden assets, as to how the court determines allocation. A divorce attorney can uncover and evaluate assets and advocate for fair distribution.

North Carolina is also a no-fault divorce state, meaning neither spouse needs to prove or blame the other spouse for the cause of the divorce. So, if adultery was the cause of marital demise, it still will not have any merit in equitable distribution. 

Three Types of Property

In North Carolina, legal separation begins on the date a spouse moves out of the family home. A written agreement or court decree is not necessary to verify that the separation is legally binding. Acknowledgment of the date the spouses reside in separate homes is crucial as it determines what is divisible property. North Carolina categorizes property as separate, divisible, and marital. 

  • Separate property – Any property procured before marriage, including inheritance, falls in this category. Gifts from a spouse, such as jewelry or a car, are also considered separate property.

  • Divisible property – From the date of separation through the date of divorce, any property procured is considered divisible property.

  • Marital Property – All property acquired throughout the marriage by either spouse, excluding gifts among spouses, is marital and will be divided equitably.

What is Equitable Distribution?

In legal terms, equitable distribution does not necessarily mean “equal” but rather “fair.” A divorce attorney can evaluate marital and non-marital assets and may determine a fair allocation, which also includes any marital debt. Sometimes non-marital property shifts into marital property. For instance, if non-marital money is deposited into a joint account, this commingling of funds converts the asset to marital property. Thus, that money would be divided equally. 

There are several aspects of how the court determines equitable division, including:

  • Spousal or child support from a previous marriage(s)

  • Assets and debts attained during the marriage

  • Pension, retirement, stock options, and investments

  • Tax liabilities

  • Duration of the marriage, age of the spouses, along with their physical and mental health to decipher their financial earning ability 

  • Contributions either spouse made to aid in the other’s career or education advancement

  • Contributions made to the family estate by either party, including a stay-at-home spouse

  • Appraisal and division of assets and businesses  

Contact a Wake County Divorce Attorney 

At Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, we are thoughtful and determined property division attorneys. We are committed to fiercely advocating for fair yet maximum divorce settlements. Our attorneys understand the grief and stress endured by divorcing spouses. We support and treat our clients with compassion. For a free consultation, contact a Raleigh divorce lawyer at 919-533-7000 or 844-967-3536. Hablamos Español.






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