When a couple is filing for divorce, there are numerous issues that must be worked out before the legal process can be finalized. One of the most pressing concerns involves the division of marital property. If spouses can't reach a settlement agreement on their own, a judge will decide how assets should be split according to state guidelines. Under these circumstances, it’s important for both parties to be aware of the local laws regarding property distribution. The following guide explains how North Carolina courts handle this matter.

What Is Marital Property?

Only marital property is subject to division in a divorce. As such, before the court can determine who will receive what, it must differentiate between a couple’s marital and separate possessions. Marital property refers to any assets spouses acquired together during their marriage. Typical examples include the primary residence, vehicles, retirement benefits, and bank accounts. 

An asset obtained by either spouse prior to the marriage or as a gift or inheritance from another party is considered separate property. For instance, if one spouse inherited a car while married, it would be viewed as their separate property, even if they shared it with the other spouse.

How Does the Court Divide It?

filing for divorce

In North Carolina, courts follow the equitable distribution law. This means they must divide property in a fair and reasonable manner. However, it doesn’t always end up being an even split. There are various factors the judge will take into account to make their decision, such as each spouse’s income-earning potential, their age and health, the length of the marriage, and how each spouse contributed to the acquisition of marital property. 

Regardless of the reason a couple is filing for divorce, marital misconduct doesn’t have an effect on the division of property. However, the court will consider any actions taken by a spouse to intentionally or unintentionally waste marital assets. When child custody arrangements are part of the case, they’ll also weigh the need of the custodial parent to remain in the home. 


If you’re seeking the dissolution of a marriage, turn to Molly N. Howard, Law Office PC for sound legal advice and representation. The skilled attorneys at this trusted family law firm are familiar with all the complexities of filing for divorce and will help guide you through the process as smoothly as possible. Serving the residents of High Point, NC, and surrounding areas, they’re focused on upholding the best interests of each client as they fight to obtain a fair settlement. Call (336) 885-3124 to schedule a consultation, or visit them online to learn more about their services.