Greensboro Equitable Distribution Attorney
Kirkman Attorneys at Law
The division of property accumulated during a marriage is a central claim in any divorce proceeding. Choose an experienced divorce lawyer who understands the complexities of North Carolina’s Equitable Distribution laws.
Equitable Distribution: Marital Property Division
Property division is an essential element to any divorce and in North Carolina, it can be complex. North Carolina is an equitable distribution state and not a community property state meaning that all marital property is subject to an equitable split and not necessarily an equal split. The property you receive after the property division will provide the financial basis for your life after divorce. To minimize your financial risk during the divorce process, it is important to have a skilled and knowledgeable divorce lawyer on your side. At Kirkman Attorneys at Law, we will work to see that your interests are protected during the process of identifying and classifying assets and debts, whether your marital estate is of a modest scale or is large and complex. Our firm will work diligently to help you obtain the property you deserve.
Equitable Distribution: An Introduction to North Carolina Marital Property Division Law
Property division, in North Carolina, is known as equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is a four-part process: (1) identify the assets and debts; (2) assets and debts must be classified as separate, marital, or divisible; (3) assets and debts must be valued; and (4) assets and debts must be equitably distributed among the spouses. To preserve your right to equitable distribution, you must file for equitable distribution before you are divorced. If you do not have a claim pending at the time you are divorced, you will not be able to later seek equitable distribution.
Step One: Identification
The first step the Court must do is identify the assets and debts held by the spouses. In this step the property and debts of both parties are identified, regardless of when the property was acquired, the debt incurred, or how and from whom asset/debt was inquired.
Step Two: Classification
The spouses’ assets and debts can be classified as either separate, marital, or divisible. The vast majority of the property will likely be classified as separate or marital. Separate property consists of all assets or debts acquired before the marriage which were kept identifiably separate and all inheritances or gifts from a third party during the marriage. Separate property is not subject to equitable distribution and the courts have no authority to distribute your separate property. Marital property consists of all assets or debts acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation. Generally, gifts between spouses during the marriage are considered marital property unless a contrary intent is stated when the gift is made. Divisible property is a limited category that deals with some types of property acquired after separation including passive increases and decreases on marital financial accounts and bonuses or commissions earned during the marriage but received after separation.
Step Three: Valuation
Before the property can be divided, each asset and debt must be valued. Valuation is a critical part of the equitable distribution process, and certain assets are harder to value than others. The Greensboro divorce lawyers at Kirkman Attorneys at Law are skilled in this valuation process and will look closely at all of the facts and circumstances. We have built relationships with some of the best experts in our region, such as accountants, appraisers, and business evaluators who can help determine the value of your estate, if your case so requires. Alternatively, we can work with your own accountant or professionals if you prefer.
Step Four: Equitable Distribution
In North Carolina, there is a strong presumption that the assets acquired during the marriage should be divided equally (50-50) among the spouses. The law presumes that an equal division is an equitable distribution. An unequal division is possible, however, unequal division is not common. There is a multitude of facts which the court will consider when determining whether an unequal division of property is an equitable distribution, including the income, debts, and property of each spouse; support obligations from a prior marriage; length of the marriage; age and health of each spouse; pension or retirements benefits which are not subject to division; contributions made to the acquisition of marital property; contributions by one spouse to advance the other’s education or career; the liquid or non-liquid nature of the property; the difficulty in evaluating a component of the property to be divided; and the tax consequences. However, marital misconduct is not a factor that is to be considered in determining equitable distribution.
There may be exceptions to the generalized foregoing rules specific to your case. Our divorce lawyers will adequately explain those exceptions to you in a manner you can understand. Our lawyers will also explain how those exceptions may impact your equitable distribution claim.
If both you and your spouse agree to a property division, you have the legal right to avoid court for equitable distribution. A property agreement or separation agreement can be drawn up which will assure that your assets and debts will be distributed in the manner of your choice. However, if the property division is contested, you may need your attorney to file a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to prevent the disappearance or conversion of the property prior to the court’s final equitable distribution judgment.
Complex Property Division Case? Turn to an Experienced North Carolina Divorce Lawyer.
Our divorce lawyers have extensive experience in cases involving large marital estates, ownership of a business, real estate, and other complex matters. The valuation of a business is especially complex.
The Greensboro, North Carolina divorce lawyers at Kirkman Attorneys at Law understand the legal and financial aspects of the property division process. Our attorneys have the experience and expertise in the North Carolina laws that affect you in this time of turmoil. Before you make the decisions about how to divide your marital property and financial assets, talk to one of our skilled and knowledgeable lawyers today.