How do courts decide the equitable distribution of marital assets?

Griffin Law, PLLC
Apr 05, 2023

In a divorce, parties will have to touch on different issues, such as alimony or child custody and support. One of the complex topics is the division of marital property which can lead to disputes if the parties cannot agree on the division. In case of a dispute, the courts intervene and determine the appropriate distribution.

Equitable is not necessarily equal

North Carolina follows an equitable distribution method when dividing marital property. However, some people mistake equitable to be the same as equal, but this is not the case. There are cases wherein each ex-spouse receives an equal part of the marital assets, but it really depends on the unique circumstances of each case. The courts acknowledge that each case is different and therefore consider multiple factors.

Factors at play

When determining what an equitable split of assets is, the courts look at the following factors:

  • The marriage’s duration
  • Each spouse’s age and health condition
  • Each spouse’s income, properties and debts at the time of the property division
  • Direct or indirect contribution of one spouse to the other’s educational or career development
  • Spousal support from a previous marriage if any
  • Compensation rights like pension if any
  • Market value of all marital and divisible assets
  • Tax liabilities

The court may also consider other factors not listed above that it deems just and proper.

The process can be intimidating, but once one understands how the courts determine the division, one can follow through the process and closely protect their rights to their asset shares.

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