‘Who gets the dog?’ It’s a common cliché showing the increasingly difficult questions involved when dealing with property division in divorce cases.
More difficult than simply saying ‘The wife gets the dog’ and so on, the court who is ruling on property division in divorce cases must answer the question not only of who owns what, but who owned what when. Property acquired during marriage, and particularly jointly, is considered as belonging to both parties and divided as equally as possible.
North Carolina is known as an ‘equitable distribution‘ state. In this case, ‘equitable distribution’ is not referring to the fact that possessions are divided equally among the parties, but rather to the fact that such possessions shall be distributed as fairly as possible.
Property acquired before the marriage is assumed to belong to the individual in possession of said property before the marriage was affected.
The one real grey area is property inherited during the marriage. If property is inherited in such a way that it remains solely the property of the inheriting individual, then according to North Carolina State Law, it remains that person’s property exclusively for purposes of a court ruling.
However, if the property was co-mingled in regards to ownership (joint checking accounts, vehicle titles etc.), then it is regarded as joint property and will be divided as fairly as possible.
A nasty side-effect of the ‘equitable division’ clause, however, is debt. Debt incurred during the marriage will belong to both parties as equally as anything else, with only a few exceptions. Such exceptions are considered ‘unequitable’ or unfair, property division awards. Given that North Carolina is an ‘equitable distribution’ state, such cases will not be granted without substantial merit.
Because these legal issues are so complex and involved, our Concord divorce attorneys suggest seeking legal counsel before entering into the murky waters of divorce proceedings. In fact, Ferguson, Hayes, Hawkins & DeMay have a number of family lawyers in Concord NC who specialize in the legal minutia involved in even the most complex of divorces cases.
Examining all your available options becomes much easier with the help of qualified professionals in the legal field, and finding family lawyers in Concord NC to help you present the best case possible is a crucial step towards avoiding legal pitfalls that are sure to spring up along the way.
With the help of our qualified divorce attorneys, you can worry less about who gets the dog, and more about recovering from the traumatic issues involved in the healing process following the traumatic circumstances leading to divorce court. Get in touch with Ferguson, Hayes, Hawkins & DeMay today!