Can You Receive More than Half the Assets in a North Carolina Divorce?
A potentially contentious issue in a divorce is how the couple’s marital assets — that is, property acquired during the marriage — will be divided. North Carolina follows the equitable distribution method. “Equitable” means fair but does not always mean equal. However, an equal division of marital property is presumed to be equitable, which means that if one spouse seeks a greater than 50/50 share, they must demonstrate their entitlement.
A court may award an unequal distribution of marital assets if it determines that it would result in a just outcome. By state law, a wide variety of factors are taken into account by a judge when deciding whether a spouse should receive more than half of the assets. These 12 factors are considered:
- Each spouse’s income, assets, and liabilities
- Support obligations from prior marriages
- The length of the marriage
- The physical and mental health of both parties
- The need of the custodial parent to retain the marital home
- The retirement assets of the parties that are separate property
- Contributions made by either spouse in acquiring property or to the other’s career
- Any contribution that increased the value of separate property during the marriage
- Tax consequences
- The liquid or nonliquid character of the marital property
- The difficulty in evaluating certain property, such as a business
- Any other factors the court deems just and proper
Additionally, the non-financial contributions of a homemaker spouse can come into play when distributing certain property. The marital home is one example. A nonworking spouse with custody of the children is more likely to be awarded the home or to be permitted to live in it for a period of time after the divorce has been finalized. As a setoff, the other spouse may receive a larger portion of other marital assets.
The court may also consider financial misconduct committed during the marriage.
Dividing the marital estate is not an exact science, especially concerning one spouse’s claim for more than half. A judge has broad discretion in determining how much weight to give each of relevant factors, so there is no single formula that will apply. It’s best to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side who can make the strongest case for your greater entitlement.
Located in Asheville, The Moore Law Office, PLLC is committed to protecting our clients’ rights and property interests in North Carolina matrimonial matters. Call 828-333-4796 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.