The primary issue in North Carolina divorces aside from child custody and support is often property division. Being married in many respects is similar to a business partnership where each spouse often owns some prior property in addition to assets and property that have been acquired since the legal union became effective. Divorce cases do not always follow specific rules regarding property distribution in states like North Carolina after all property is inventoried and classified as either marital or separate property.
The first step in a divorce is typically property inventory. Obvious marital assets can be totaled and assessed for distribution when they have clearly been accumulated during the marriage. The remaining property is then evaluated for equitable distribution according to details of acquisition and increased value in determining percentage of ownership for each spouse. This is not always a 50-50 split in North Carolina, and judges have significant latitude in certain situations if mediation or negotiations do not produce an agreement.
While a prenuptial agreement can exempt certain personal property, remaining property is still evaluated for equitable distribution. Typical divorces will include assignment of property as personal or marital, with personal property owned prior to the marriage and inheritances received during the marriage typically being exempt from inclusion. Where this can become important is when the couple operates a business that was owned prior to marriage by one spouse and has grown during the marriage with input from the other spouse. These types of divorce proceedings can often be complicated and require aggressive representation from a North Carolina family law professional.
It is not necessary for divorcing couples in North Carolina to go through mediation to determine distribution of property issues. Amiable divorce agreements are common. However, the best method of ensuring true equitable property distribution is by retaining a knowledgeable family law attorney who has experience with these matters.