In North Carolina, the property that a married couple has amassed between their date of marriage and date of separation is distributed between the parties through a process known as Equitable Distribution. Typically, in Equitable Distribution, each spouse will be awarded 50% of the marital assets and debts. At Garrett Walker Aycoth & Olson, we work hard to ensure that our clients receive their fair share!
Can I get more than 50% of the marital assets through equitable distribution?
Yes. A court may decide to give one party more assets if splitting assets in half would not truly be fair. In making such a determination a court may consider things such as:
- The income, property, and liabilities of each party at the time of the division of property is to become effective;
- Any obligation for support arising out of a prior marriage;
- The duration of the marriage and the age and physical and mental health of both parties;
- The need of a parent with custody of a child or children of the marriage to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects;
- The expectation of pension, retirement, or other deferred compensation rights that are not marital property.
For a full list of the court’s considerations for unequal distribution see N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c).
Does marital misconduct matter in an equitable distribution claim?
Typically no. A court does not usually consider issues of marital misconduct for the purposes of equitable distribution. Marital misconduct is more relevant as it relates to claims for post-separation support and/or alimony.
What is separate property?
Separate property, typically, is property that a party owned prior to the marriage or property that the party received through a will or other inheritance. Married persons may also be able to contract with one another to specifically agree that certain property is separate, rather than marital property.
Do I have to go to court?
Maybe. The parties to an equitable distribution are encouraged to try to resolve their property dispute pursuant to an equitable distribution action without a formal court proceeding. Oftentimes, the parties may be able to reach a formal agreement which would not require or court appearance. The parties may also be able to resolve the property dispute through mediation. If the parties are not able to resolve the property settlement through those means, then a formal court hearing may be necessary.
The Greensboro family law attorneys of Garrett Walker Aycoth & Olson will assist you in inventorying, classifying, valuing, and distributing your separate and marital property no matter how much, or how little, property you own. In some cases, we even seek an interim distribution of marital property to sustain spouses during litigation or negotiations.
We are experienced in Equitable Distribution cases involving high net worth individuals, business owners, and other cases with added complexities. Our attorneys have a network of experts including, accountants, appraisers, and business valuators who are available to assist our clients when necessary.
Our Triad equitable distribution attorneys are competent at drafting settlement documents including Separation Agreements, court orders, and QDROs to resolve Equitable Distribution cases. QDROs, or Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, are necessary to divide certain retirement/investment accounts after separation.