Property and Debt Division

Equitable Distribution

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. The court will determine the marital and divisible property of the couple then provide for an equitable distribution.

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.

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 increases and decreases in marital debt and financing charges and interest related to marital debt.

In North Carolina, the division of property between the parties will be equal, unless the court determines that an equal division of property is not equitable

Separation and Property Settlement Agreements

Settlement of disputed issues is always preferable to litigation. At Gailor Hunt Jenkins Davis Taylor & Gibbs, PLLC, settlement is always fully explored as an alternative to litigation. If you and your spouse can agree to the terms of your separation and property division, then a separation and property settlement agreement may be for you.

Separation and property settlement agreements are legal contracts which may provide for the terms of your separation, child custody, child support, property division, responsibility for joint debts, alimony provisions and any other issues that you and your spouse may have arising out of your marriage.

In order to ensure the fairness of a separation and property settlement agreement, you should make certain that there has been a full and fair disclosure of all assets, debts, income and financial liabilities by both spouses. In addition, the division of assets requires that most assets be valued. The most typical assets that are valued by appraisers are real estate, business interests, tangible personal property and intangible assets such as retirement benefits.

In deciding what is appropriate amount for child support and/or spousal support, both parties should itemize their expenses based on, at least, the preceding 12 months average prior to the separation as well as current expenses. Tax consequences should always be considered before agreeing to a support arrangement. Very often, accountants are utilized to ensure that there are no unexpected tax consequences to the parties arising from their financial arrangements.

Gailor Hunt Jenkins Davis Taylor & Gibbs, PLLC can help you locate and value assets acquired during the marriage, and negotiate a fair settlement of care and custody of children, support and property division issues.

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