Yours, Mine and Ours (No Longer): Distributing Marital Property Before Divorce

One of the most legally complex issues for divorcing couples is how their marital assets will be divided. In North Carolina, the division of marital property following a separation of the spouses is referred to as “Equitable Distribution.” Generally speaking, “marital property” is defined as all assets and debts that you and your spouse, either independently or together, acquired after the date of marriage and prior to the date of separation. “Separate property” is defined as assets or debts that one spouse acquired prior to the marriage or during the course of the marriage under very specific circumstances. Marital property is subject to Equitable Distribution; separate property is not.

NC law instructs the Court to divide marital property equally unless such division is not equitable, in which case, the Court may consider the following factors: each spouse’s income, property and liabilities; any support obligation from a prior marriage; the marriage duration; each spouse’s age and physical and mental health; the need of a parent with custody of a child to occupy a jointly owned home; a spouse’s contributions as a wage earner or homemaker; the tax consequences to each spouse; any acts of either spouse to maintain or waste marital property after the date of separation; any separate property owned by either spouse; the difficulty of evaluating business interests; and any direct contribution to an increase in value of a spouse’s separate property.

The long list of factors demonstrates that Equitable Distribution isn’t always as simple as giving each spouse fifty percent (50%) of the assets and/or debts.  In many cases, it may be more “equitable” for one spouse to be distributed more than fifty (50%) of either the assets or debts. It’s almost always within a divorcing couple’s best interest to have control over the division of their marital property and come to an agreement.  Otherwise, a judge will determine distribution based on the testimony in court.  No matter how resolved, once an agreement is reached, you should leave the drafting of the Agreement to a licensed attorney with experience in Equitable Distribution.  Contact the knowledgeable family law attorneys at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. to discuss your situation.

Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. serves clients in North Carolina and South Carolina. Located in the town of Matthews between Mecklenburg and Union Counties in North Carolina since 1982, we’ve proudly provided legal services throughout Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Waxhaw, the Ballantyne area, and other surrounding communities in the Greater Charlotte area. Our clients range from national corporations and major banking institutions to individuals and local companies.