No matter whose name is on the title or whose name is on a certain account, when property is acquired during a marriage, North Carolina law states that this property is shared by both spouses.
This means that during a divorce, as couples separate their shared lives, they will need to divide this shared property.
This property can include bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, homes, vehicles, collectibles, businesses, household goods and many other types of assets. Some are easier to divide than others.
Equal division vs. equitable division of assets
The law presumes that the marital property will be divided between the parties equally. However, this does not need to occur if an equal division of property is not fair given the circumstances. Instead of an equal division, courts want to see an equitable, or fair, division of marital property.
In considering equitable division, the factors that judges will analyze include, but are not limited to:
- The incomes of each spouse and whether one sacrificed income to allow the other spouse to further their career
- The property owned by each spouse and each spouse’s debts
- The length of the marriage and the ages and health of each spouse
- The contributions each spouse made to acquire or grow an asset
- Whether there is a need for the custodial parent to keep the marital home for the children
- The tax consequences to the spouse who will be awarded certain property
- The nature of the property, whether it is liquid or nonliquid property
- Whether one spouse wasted assets leading up to the divorce
It is not always easy to divide property in a divorce in North Carolina. Some assets, such as bank accounts, are easy to determine the value and easy to divide. However, people cannot simply split houses in half.
There may be appraisals needed and couples may need to be creative in how they will split equity in assets such as homes. It is important to understand the process and consulting with an attorney who understands the difficulties that are associated with divorce can be important.