You and your spouse might have accumulated significant assets during your marriage. If you two are now divorcing, you will likely bristle at the prospect of parting with these. Yet, you may not understand what exactly what assets you must divide. By understanding how North Carolina defines marital property, you can determine what you will split and what will remain yours.

How North Carolina defines marital property

In North Carolina, marital property refers to any assets that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, up until your separation. Many of these assets are obvious, such as your home and your vehicles. Yet, marital property also includes certain assets held in you or your spouse’s name alone. For instance, one or both of you might have established a retirement account during your marriage. Or, one or both of you might have a retirement account or pension plan in which funds accrued. Because of the timing of these events, the assets in question qualify as marital property.

Keep in mind that the value of your marital property might have changed after your separation. Furthermore, you or your spouse might have earned income – like a bonus or commission – during your separation that stemmed from events that happened beforehand. Or, one of you might have earned passive income on marital property while living apart. In these cases, the property in question will qualify as divisible, and you will split it during divorce proceedings.

Most assets that you or your spouse held individually prior to your marriage will count as separate property. Yet, if either of you commingled these with marital property, their classification will likely change.

Exceptions to North Carolina’s property division laws

Certain assets you or your spouse acquired during your marriage may qualify as separate – rather than marital – property, so long as they were not commingled. These include:

  • Any inheritance you or your spouse received
  • Any individual gifts you or your spouse received
  • Any property you or your spouse acquired using the proceeds of your inheritance or gifts
  • Any property you or your spouse acquired in exchange for separate property
  • Any business or professional licenses you or your spouse hold

By knowing what constitutes marital property, you can make sure the share you receive in your divorce is appropriate. A family law attorney can help you understand your options for reaching a settlement that reflects your needs.