When your marriage ends, you and your former spouse must decide how to divide your marital assets. In North Carolina, state law calls for equitable distribution, which must be fair but not necessarily equal. 

Read on to learn more about the rules regarding property division when you file for divorce in the state. 

Types of property 

The court distinguishes between marital property, divisible property and separate property. Separate property includes anything you owned before marriage or gifts or inheritances given only to you during the marriage. Marital property includes all assets and debts accrued from the date of the marriage to the date of separation. Retirement funds and pensions also fall into this category. Divisible property includes anything earned during the marriage but received between the separation date and the date the court finalizes the divorce. It does not include debts accrued by one party after the separation date. 

The property division process 

If you and your spouse cannot agree on property division, the court will decide on your behalf during the divorce proceedings. The judge will use equal division as the default arrangement, but may adjust the amounts each person receives based on factors such as: 

  • The age and health status of each spouse 
  • How long the marriage lasted 
  • The income and income potential of each spouse 
  • The amount of shared property and debts, and how much of the property consists of liquid assets 
  • How each spouse contributed to the marriage, including both economic and noneconomic contributions 
  • Tax consequences of property division 

The judge does not necessarily consider adultery when dividing marital property. However, a spouse who had an affair using marital funds may receive a smaller share of marital assets. 

The role of alimony 

Sometimes, the judge will order alimony to help one spouse enjoy the same standard of living as existed during the marriage, especially if he or she has less income and spent years raising children and serving as a homemaker. A spouse who had an affair cannot receive alimony in North Carolina. The factors involved in this decision are similar to those for property division.