Equitable Distribution

When spouses separate and subsequently divorce in North Carolina, the division or assets, property, and debt accumulated during the marriage need to be somehow divided. As an “equitable distribution” state, North Carolina law requires that the the marital estate, usually consisting of all assets acquired by either spouse between the date of marriage and the date of separation, usually (but not always) be divided equally between the parties. There are various factors that courts consider when considering how to divide the marital estate, including (i) length of the marriage, (ii) age and health of each party, (iii) tax consequences, and (iv) support obligations from prior marriages.

Gifts from third parties and inheritances received during the marriage are usually considered the separate property of the owner and are not subject to division, provided such property is not commingled with other marital assets. Assets or property accumulated by either spouse before the marriage began continue to be treated as their separate property, again, provided that the assets have not been commingled with other marital assets. Any increase in value to separate property during the course of the marriage, however, is treated as a marital asset.