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Can there be unequal division of marital property in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2023 | Divorce

Property division can be a sticking point in many North Carolina divorces. This is true no matter the couple’s financial situation, how much they have accrued and what type of property they have.

A common mistake people make is believing that marital property will automatically be divided in half. That is not necessarily true. It is important to understand this not just with property, but with debt. From the start, the couple should know how the process might go.

A judge can decide on unequal distribution

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. That means the court will divide property in what it perceives to be a fair way. It might not necessarily be equal. The court will generally prefer to split the property evenly, but it is not automatic.

The primary objective is to be reasonable with both sides. If, for example, one person contributed to the purchase of a property more than the other, they might receive a greater percentage of it or get it outright.

The same holds true for debt. If one person amassed the debt, then if could be unfair for both to be obligated to pay it. That might be for credit cards, student loans, mortgages and other purchases.

The income of each person will be considered. The property itself, its value and the desirability to retain it is key. Their ages, health situation, whether there are children, how much one person might have helped the other with their earning power, how long they were married and other factors are weighed.

It is wise to remember that if a significant contributing reason for the divorce was adultery or some other form of marital misconduct, it will not impact how property is divided. The only instance where it will be considered is if there was financial misconduct.

Understand how property is divided in a divorce

While some family law cases can be resolved amicably through discussion and negotiation, others are more complicated. This is particularly true when there is property at stake and both sides claim to warrant receiving it as part of the divorce.

There are strategies to reach a reasonable outcome. For people in a relatively friendly divorce and those who are dealing with acrimony, it is essential to know how property will be divided and what options are available to reach an acceptable resolution.