What You Need to Know About Marital Property in North Carolina

4-1024x1024What You Need to Know About Marital Property in North Carolina

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a couple may seek to end their marriage due to irreconcilable differences. A no-fault divorce is easier and less complicated than divorces that require grounds. While a no-fault divorce is likely less difficult, couples must still work to properly divide their property as well as their assets. North Carolina laws provide that couples divide marital property in an equitable manner when they divorce.


What is Marital Property?

In order to equitably divide your property, you need to understand the definition of marital property. North Carolina law (General Statutes 50-20(b)(1)) defines marital property as “all real property and personal property that was acquired by either or both spouses during the course of a marriage and before the date of the separation of the parties.” While the definition may seem straightforward, marital property division can be quite complex.


In general, any property that you obtained during your marriage is considered marital property and belongs to both of you. This is true regardless of which party actually made the purchase. Property also includes debts. Some examples of marital property include real estate, personal property, money that accumulated in an insurance policy, and pension benefits.


Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How will the judge divide our property?”


Separate Property

Separate property is property that is owned only by one party. Separate property typically refers to property that you owned prior to marriage. However, it may also include property that you obtained during marriage under some circumstances. For example, if one party received an inheritance during the marriage, it is considered separate property. The same holds true for an individual gift. Separate property is not subject to division in a divorce. The party who owns the property has the burden of proof regarding separate ownership.


Equitable Distribution of Marital Propertyhouse-2-1225477-1024x804

The equitable distribution of property can be tricky and complicated. This is especially true when a couple has been married a long time or has a lot of assets. Both parties must provide an inventory of assets affidavit. The inventory must be complete and accurate. If a party is found to have omitted assets or deliberately hidden them, they could suffer some consequences in the distribution process. It is important to note that a prenuptial agreement will take precedence if one exists. Couples are generally required to work out the details of their marital property distribution between themselves. A judge will usually sign off on the distribution when both parties agree and when the distribution is fair and equitable.


Distribution of marital property can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. It is essential to identify and document your assets at the time of your separation. This can help to make the process easier and less stressful. Your divorce attorney will assist you with the process and answer your questions along the way. Call us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team.




The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



equitable distribution | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)

G.S. 50-20 (ncleg.net)


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