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North Carolina Marital Property Laws

What is Marital Property?

The term "marital property" refers to nearly all possessions and interests acquired by a couple during the period of their marriage, which becomes relevant only during divorce proceedings. Not all property acquired during marriage is considered "marital" property, though. Certain property, including inheritances and personal gifts, are considered "separate" property. In addition, any property acquired during the marriage with the proceeds of separate property remains separate. So if a couple bought a car with the husband's inheritance and shared that car, it would be considered the husband's separate property after a divorce. 

Just a few states recognize the concept of community property, in which everything is jointly owned. In these states, all marital property is divided roughly in half. But a growing number of states uses the concept of "equitable division," in which the assets and needs of each party are considered. For instance, a mother who has physical custody of the children most likely will be granted the house. In a community property state, the house may have to be sold.

Marital Property Law in North Carolina: The Basics

North Carolina marital property laws do not recognize community property, which gives the parties more options for how marital property is divided in a divorce. When dividing property, courts will consider the following factors (not a complete list):

  • The income, property, and liabilities of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.
  • Any obligation for support arising out of a prior marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage and the age and physical and mental health of both parties.
  • The need of a parent with custody of a child or children of the marriage to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects.
  • The expectation of pension, retirement, or other deferred compensation rights that are not marital property.
  • Any equitable claim to, interest in, or direct or indirect contribution made to the acquisition of such marital property by the party not having title, including joint efforts or expenditures and contributions and services, or lack thereof, as a spouse, parent, wage earner or homemaker.
  • Any direct or indirect contribution made by one spouse to help educate or develop the career potential of the other spouse.
  • Any direct contribution to an increase in value of separate property which occurs during the course of the marriage.
  • The liquid or nonliquid character of all marital property and divisible property.
  • The difficulty of evaluating any component asset or any interest in a business, corporation or profession, and the economic desirability of retaining such asset or interest, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.

Learn more about North Carolina marital property laws, and marital property in general, below. See FindLaw's Divorce and Property section for more information.

Community Property Recognized? No, however Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act adopted (§§31C-1, et seq.)
Dower And Curtesy Dower and curtesy abolished (§29-4)

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, either through the enactment of a newly signed statute or through some other means. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a North Carolina divorce attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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