Equitable Distribution

Miller Bowles Law

Miller Bowles Law has Charlotte equitable distribution attorneys with the experience, skill, and dedication to help with your North Carolina equitable distribution case. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Dividing up property, assets, and debts that spouses have acquired during their marriage is referred to as “equitable distribution” in North Carolina’s statutes. Generally speaking, any asset or debt acquired by spouses during their marriage is subject to equitable distribution by the Court. This includes houses, bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card debts, vehicles, student loans, household goods, boats, jewelry, and the like. There are, of course, exceptions to most every law, and each client’s situation is unique. The attorneys at Miller Bowles Law can help you sort through these assets and debts and determine what the laws of North Carolina would entitle you to receive.

Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean that each spouse will receive half of the marital estate. The Courts in North Carolina state that “equitable” means “fair”–not necessarily equal. Either spouse can ask the Court to award them more than half of the net marital estate, and there are a number of statutory factors that can be argued to the Court to ask for more than half of the net marital estate. Marital misconduct of either party will generally not be considered when the Court makes and equitable distribution. Statutory factors include:

  1. The income, property, and liabilities of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.
  2. Any obligation for support arising out of a prior marriage.
  3. The duration of the marriage and the age and physical and mental health of both parties.
  4. The need of a parent with custody of a child or children of the marriage to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects.
  5. The expectation of pension, retirement, or other deferred compensation rights that are not marital property.
  6. Any equitable claim to, interest in, or direct or indirect contribution made to the acquisition of such marital property by the party not having title, including joint efforts or expenditures and contributions and services, or lack thereof, as a spouse, parent, wage earner or homemaker.
  7. Any direct or indirect contribution made by one spouse to help educate or develop the career potential of the other spouse.
  8. Any direct contribution to an increase in value of separate property which occurs during the course of the marriage.
  9. The liquid or nonliquid character of all marital property and divisible property.
  10. The difficulty of evaluating any component asset or any interest in a business, corporation or profession, and the economic desirability of retaining such asset or interest, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
  11. The tax consequences to each party, including those federal and State tax consequences that would have been incurred if the marital and divisible property had been sold or liquidated on the date of valuation. The trial court may, however, in its discretion, consider whether or when such tax consequences are reasonably likely to occur in determining the equitable value deemed appropriate for this factor.
    1. Acts of either party to maintain, preserve, develop, or expand; or to waste, neglect, devalue or convert the marital property or divisible property, or both, during the period after separation of the parties and before the time of distribution.
    2. In the event of the death of either party prior to the entry of any order for the distribution of property made pursuant to this subsection:
      1. Property passing to the surviving spouse by will or through intestacy due to the death of a spouse.
      2. Property held as tenants by the entirety or as joint tenants with rights of survivorship passing to the surviving spouse due to the death of a spouse.
      3. Property passing to the surviving spouse from life insurance, individual retirement accounts, pension or profit‑sharing plans, any private or governmental retirement plan or annuity of which the decedent controlled the designation of beneficiary (excluding any benefits under the federal social security system), or any other retirement accounts or contracts, due to the death of a spouse.
      4. The surviving spouse’s right to claim an “elective share” pursuant to G.S. 30‑3.1 through G.S. 30‑33, unless otherwise waived.
  12. Any other factor which the court finds to be just and proper.

If your spouse has control over most of the marital assets and you do not have adequate resources to sustain throughout your separation, you have the right to ask the Court to award you an “interim distribution” of marital assets. Interim distributions are awarded to spouses unless the other spouse can show the Court good cause for not doing so. To learn whether you have a claim for equitable distribution, or an interim distribution, please contact the attorneys of Miller Bowles.