During a marriage, spouses generally acquire property, whether it’s a home, cars, bank accounts, a business, IRA’s or stock options. North Carolina law outlines the debt division and distribution of this property.
Once a couple has separated, either party may ask the court for an equitable distribution of marital and divisible property.
Marital Property is defined as real and personal property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the date of separation of the parties, and presently owned, except property determined to be separate property or divisible property.
Separate property is defined as all real and personal property acquired by a spouse before marriage or acquired by a spouse by bequest, devise, descent or gift during the course of the marriage. However, property acquired by gift from the other spouse during the course of the marriage shall be considered separate property only if such an intention is stated in the conveyance.
Divisible property is defined as: all appreciation and diminution in value of marital and divisible property occurring after the date of separation and prior to the date of distribution, (except that appreciation or diminution in value which is the result of post separation actions or activities of a spouse); all property, property rights, or any portion thereof received after the date of separation but before the date of distribution that was acquired as a result of the effort of either spouse during the marriage and before the date of separation, including but not limited to, commissions, bonuses, and contractual rights; passive income from marital property received after the date of separation, including but not limited to, interest and dividends; and passive increases and passive decreases in marital debt and financing charges and interest related to marital debt.
In North Carolina, the division of property between the parties shall be equal, unless the court determines that an equal division of property is not equitable. The equitable distribution statute lists several specific distributional factors for the court to consider when deciding whether the division should not be equal.