The Law of Property Division (Equitable Distribution)

In North Carolina, the law that governs the division of assets and debts in the context of divorce is called Equitable Distribution. There is a presumption under the law that an equal division of the net marital estate (the marital assets less the marital debts) is fair and equitable. There are, however, a number of factors that can justify an unequal division of the net marital estate in favor of one spouse over the other. A qualified attorney can advise you about whether any of these factors exist in your situation.

Generally speaking, property and debt is marital if it is acquired during the marriage as a result of the effort of one or both spouses. Property or debt is separate, and therefore is not subject to division between spouses in a divorce, if it is acquired before marriage, after separation, by inheritance, or by gift to one spouse from a third party. There are exceptions to these general principles, and there are many nuances to how they are applied in determining whether a particular item of property or debt is marital, separate, or mixed. Good legal advice in this area is critical.

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