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How does equitable distribution work in a divorce?

| May 6, 2021 | Divorce |

If you and your spouse agree about certain important matters or have a prenuptial or postmarital agreement, you may file for an uncontested divorce. If you don’t have an agreement, you may need a family law judge to look at the circumstances and make the final decision about how to split up your property.

If an uncontested divorce seems impossible, you likely want to understand how a judge will make these crucial decisions. The courts in North Carolina will apply the equitable distribution standard to your marital assets. What will that mean for you and your property?

Property and debt accumulated during the marriage gets split

Before a judge can determine how to split your property, they first have to look at what property you need them to divide. Your marital assets usually include everything you earned while married and anything you purchased with that income. Debts incurred during your marriage, especially debts that helped support the household, are also usually divisible.

Either spouse could have separate property or debts from before the marriage that won’t get divided. An inheritance may also be separate property.

How will the court split the property you need to divide?

Equitable distribution rules rely on a judge’s ability to interpret a family’s circumstances. Each spouse has made contributions to the marriage — some financial and others non-monetary. Unpaid work and financial contributions can influence the property division ruling in a divorce.

The judge may also look at how long you stayed married, your health and what you currently earn or could earn with your education and work skills. Other factors like child support and spousal maintenance can influence property division decisions.

There are so many different factors to consider, so it can be hard to predict how much of the marital estate one spouse will receive or what a judge will do with specific property. However, your divorce is very unlikely to result in a very unfair or uneven division of your property. Making a thorough inventory of assets and effectively presenting your situation to the courts can help achieve a fair outcome.