Equitable Distribution of Marital Property

Man on Coins.jpgFamily law judges in North Carolina apply the divorce concept of equitable distribution when it comes time to divide the property and debts between a divorcing couple. This means that the marital estate, assets and debts, are to be divided in an equitable manner.

This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair, but not always equal. There is no fixed standard to divide property, each case will be decided on its own facts, and the court’s discretion will not be disturbed on appeal without a showing of clear abuse (a very tough standard to meet).

Property includes personal items (such as cars, furniture and household items) and real property (land and houses). Debts include mortgages, car loans, and credit card bills. Really anything you can possess is thrown into the pot before it’s all split apart.

It’s important to note that not all property is subject to this equitable division. Items that qualify as non-marital include the following: property acquired by either party before the marriage; property acquired after certain stages of the divorce process; property excluded by written contract of the parties (likely a prenuptial agreement); and any increase in value of non-marital property that did not result from efforts of the other spouse.

Judges consider multiple factors when deciding how to divide property between the parties and it’s sometimes hard to know which issues hold the most sway. Some of the considerations before the judge including the following:

• The financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage
• The age and health of the spouses
• The length of the marriage
• The existence of retirement benefits
• Any potential alimony awards
• The child custody arrangement

After determining what percentage of the marital estate each spouse should receive, it must then be decided how the assets are to be divided to achieve the necessary split. This is step where it is decided who gets what, the house, the cars and other assets until each party receives their appropriate share of the marital estate.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce in Charlotte, it is best to contact an experienced equitable distribution lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often difficult process.

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