Along with child custody, property division issues are the most difficult to resolve in any North Carolina divorce. The divorcing couple has worked hard to accumulate their wealth, and they must also look to the future. Accordingly, the spouses may disagree over who gets what.
While the hope is that the case is resolved amicably, they may also need to litigate. You should always get the help of an experienced equitable distribution lawyer. Call Davis Curry Law today to discuss your case with a qualified Hendersonville divorce attorney.
How Equitable Distribution Works Under North Carolina Law
Equitable distribution is the process of dividing the married couple’s property when they divorce. However, while the term “equitable” can often mean equal, it does not always work out that way.
Equity implies fairness; there are some situations when giving one spouse more than half the assets may be fair. You can expect that, absent certain factors, marital property will be split close to 50/50.
North Carolina law gives a list of factors that a judge may consider in deciding how to divide the property. The law looks to the past, present and future.
Here are some of the factors laid out in state law:
- The effort and contribution that a spouse who does not hold title made to acquiring marital property
- The income, property and debts of each of the spouses at the time of the divorce
- The duration of the marriage
- The expectation of future benefits from non-marital property
These are just some of a long list that a judge may consider. The law allows the court to factor in anything that it thinks may be relevant. If your case goes to court, you may have little predictability. You have every incentive to reach an agreement, although it is not always possible.
Not every asset is split 50/50 down the middle. Some assets are not conducive to division.
For example, the family home cannot be physically split. One spouse could remain in the family home, while the other party buys out their interest. You may need to trade various assets to achieve an equitable division of assets.
At the outset, the parties may disagree over what it considered marital property. Under North Carolina law, marital property is defined in part as:
“all real and personal property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the date of the separation of the parties”.
Categorizing and Valuing Marital Assets
Valuation is crucial when you are dividing the marital assets. The court will usually use the fair market value benchmark to determine what to divide. Each spouse has the ability to give their own evidence about what they believe is the fair market value.
Here are some issues that divorcing spouses may encounter when determining how to value property:
- When one spouse will continue to hold the property, it is in their interest to obtain the lowest possible valuation because they will need to buy out their spouse
- An asset may have built-in tax obligations and withdrawal penalties (such as stock holdings and retirement accounts)
- Part of an asset may not be considered marital property, while the other part is
If there are any disagreements about the value or character of marital property, your attorney may work with a forensic accountant who can trace assets through the marriage. We also work with business and asset valuation experts who can explain how they reached their numbers. You can be assured that the other spouse will have their own experts, so you need yours.
Protecting Your Financial Interests in a Divorce
The decisions that you make when negotiating a separation agreement are crucial to both your present and your future. You need to prepare for a situation in which two households need to be supported from the same base of assets and incomes. Thus, your financial interests are at stake in the divorce.
You need an experienced attorney to help protect your financial interests. The stress of a divorce could keep you from thinking about the long term. You may be dealing with a spouse who has their own interests and will do anything to further them.
At Davis Curry Law, one of the core values is listening to and understanding your whole situation. We will communicate with you and learn what is important to you. Working in tandem with you and for you, we help you devise a strategy and goals for the equitable division of your marital assets. If negotiations cannot resolve any disputes, we do not hesitate to litigate on your behalf.
Divorce Case FAQs
What are the chances that my divorce case will go to trial?
Realistically, your case will not end up in a hearing in front of the judge. There are many reasons why both you and your spouse would have an incentive to settle the case.
Is there anything I can do if negotiations seem to be at a standstill?
We may recommend that you and your spouse work with a mediator, who can help facilitate negotiations.
Contact an Equitable Distribution Lawyer in Hendersonville, NC Today
At Davis Curry Law, our lawyer can see each aspect of a divorce on an objective level, based on experience and knowledge of the law. We take the time to explain things and communicate with you, since you are the client.
We understand that you are going through a rough time in your life, and we try to make things easier for you. To speak with a divorce attorney, you can submit our online form or call us today at 828-900-2420.