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Is North Carolina a 50/50 state?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Divorce

Individuals who are contemplating divorce often have a lot of questions and may receive a lot of misinformation from other people. For example, those who have gone through a divorce or witnessed one might make claims about what the process involves.

Well-intentioned individuals can provide inaccurate information that leaves people feeling like they cannot divorce or panicked about the consequences of a spouse’s divorce filing. What is true in one case or in another state may not apply to another person’s divorce.

Some people claim that those divorcing in North Carolina must divide their property 50/50 with their spouses. Is an equal split of marital property the standard approach to litigated property division scenarios in North Carolina?

North Carolina is not a community property state

The 50/50 property division rule is only a law in a few states. Community property statutes in states like Arizona require the even division of marital property in most cases. All assets and income are subject to an even split in a litigated divorce.

North Carolina is not a community property state for the purposes of asset and debt division during a divorce. Instead, the state has an equitable distribution statute. When couples litigate property division matters, judges should look for a fair solution. Equitable distribution requires that a judge look at factors including someone’s health and their earning potential as well as custody arrangements and separate property.

Even two couples with very similar marital estates could have vastly different divorce outcomes depending on what the judge deems fair given their circumstances. Some property division decrees require the liquidation or sale of property. Judges can use debt to balance out the value of assets. They can also award one spouse more property or more debt based on other elements of the situation.

While equitable distribution aims for fairness, the outcome of any particular case is very difficult to predict. Spouses who need specific terms, like the right to retain the marital home, may need to consider uncontested solutions for settling property division matters rather than litigating them. Either way, knowing what to expect during North Carolina equitable distribution proceedings may help people preparing for litigation or negotiation.