When people get divorced, dividing assets can be the top concern. Most spouses are scared about losing property they've helped accumulate over their careers, and many people don't know what they will be able to keep.
One way to alleviate fears and concerns about the unknown is to understand some basic facts about property pending a divorce. For instance, one crucial thing to know is that there are different types of property, and not all of them are eligible for division.
In the majority of cases, most property involved in a divorce is marital property. This includes anything earned, purchased or accumulated during the marriage, though there are exceptions (which we explain below). In a divorce, all marital property will be subject to North Carolina equitable distribution laws, which state that the courts will divide property equitably. Often, this means the division is equal, though the courts can adjust the balance after considering numerous relevant factors.
Separate property is property owned by one person and is generally not eligible for division in a divorce. Separate property typically includes any property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, inheritances, gifts to one spouse during the marriage and other property that spouses addressed as such in a valid prenuptial agreement.
Often, especially in complex or high-assets divorces, an asset or liability has elements of both marital and separate property. In some cases, separate property might become a marital asset through co-mingling. In other cases, an asset could be separate, but appreciation of that asset could be marital property if the increase in value is the result of marital efforts.
Understanding the different types of property can help you see which property will be eligible for division and which property may not.
Once you understand this, you can better prepare for the property division process. You should discuss any questions you have regarding the North Carolina equitable distribution laws with an attorney. You can also discuss with your attorney how to negotiate for specific assets you want to keep as well as how you can ensure property valuations are accurate. All of these elements are crucial in pursuing a fair and satisfactory division of property.